Project title: Genomic basis of host-symbiont dependency
Summary: Ants are among the most diverse and successful organisms on eart and one of the keys to their success is the mutualistic relationships they form with other organisms. Of particular interest are the relationships they form with the symbiotic microbes they carry in highly specialised cells, called bacteriocytes. My project explores the nature of these often indispensable relationship using Formicidae ants. I aim to test hypotheses involving symbiont loss and gain, symbiont function, and the genomic basis of host-symbiont integration using experimental and genomic studies.