Symbiosis is widespread in nature and an important process in ecology and evolution. Our group studies the effects of symbiotic bacteria in insects and seeks to understand the distribution of different bacterial associates within and among species.
We use as a model organism an herbivorous insect, the pea aphid, which has at least seven known intracellular bacterial associates that confer a variety of ecologically-important effects including resistance to pathogens. The DPhil project would be developed in consultation with the student, but is likely to involve both field survey data and experimental work to investigate the prevalence and phenotypic effects of different symbiotic bacteria across pea aphid populations.
This work will be based in the UK, but carried out in conjunction with our international collaborators (in France, the USA, and China), and we would encourage a DPhil student to visit and train in one of these different research groups.
Personal Research Keywords
Symbiosis, mutualism, specialisation, insects, bacterial endosymbionts, evolution of resistance