The importance of bacterial communities associated to animals has gained much attention in recent years due to the large impact that these can have on host nutrition, protection, reproduction, or even development. Insects have become accessible and useful model systems to study these animal-microbe interactions. We have thereby learned that symbiotic bacteria in insects —as well as in other animals— can largely influence infections by pathogens. We are focusing on two insect hosts, Western Flower Thrips and Lagria beetles, to better understand how their symbiotic bacteria interact with pathogenic fungi and whether this has an impact on infection success.
You are welcome to contact us if you are interested in this topic and looking for an MSc or BSc project in biology, biotechnology, animal science or similar. We are open to discuss details of a specific project, which can be adapted to include a subset of these methods: microbiological cultivation, insect manipulation, virulence assays, RNA extraction, quantitative real-time PCR, imaging or experimental evolution. The project will be carried out at the Section for Organismal Biology, within the Applied Evolutionary Ecology Research Group. This is an international team, offering a friendly and cooperative working environment. There, you will have the chance to interact with researchers and students interested in the ecology and evolution of insect-microbe interactions, as well as the applied perspectives of this field.