Events

When a beneficial endosymbiont goes bad

9 February 2018
12:15
Location: 
Sala d'Actes
Given by: 
Dr. John McCutcheon
Position at: 
Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Estats Units d'Amèrica

Summary

The genomes of endosymbiotic bacteria are often extremely stable in structure, size, and gene content. For example, endosymbionts in insects diverged by tens or hundreds of millions of years often have genomes almost completely conserved in gene order and content. This conservation is thought to reflect the importance of the endosymbiont to its host: these bacteria often provide essential nutrients or defensive functions. In this talk I will show that an endosymbiont of cicadas has repeatedly fractured into complexes of distinct genomic and cellular lineages. I will discuss how these patterns show interesting parallels to the genomic instability seen in some mitochondria.

 

Brief biography

John McCutcheon is an associate professor at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana, USA. He and his lab are interested in symbioses. They work with a number of model systems, including sap-feeding insects and their endosymbiotic bacteria, ambrosia beetles and their ectosymbiotic fungi, and the consortia of fungal and photosynthetic partners that form lichens. They use a variety of approaches—genomics, microscopy, molecular biology, molecular evolution, cell biology, and field biology—to address their questions. John is an Associate Editor at Genome Biology and Evolution and is on the Editorial Board at Current Biology.