WHO MAKES THE CHOICE? ENTOMOPATHOGENIC BACTERIA AS MODELS FOR UNDERSTANDING HOST-MICROBE INTERACTIONS

picture of John McMullen presenting his/her poster: WHO MAKES THE CHOICE? ENTOMOPATHOGENIC BACTERIA AS MODELS FOR UNDERSTANDING HOST-MICROBE INTERACTIONS

John McMullen , S. Patricia Stock

WHO MAKES THE CHOICE? ENTOMOPATHOGENIC BACTERIA AS MODELS FOR UNDERSTANDING HOST-MICROBE INTERACTIONS

The bacteria that live within the human gut play an important role, not only in digestion, but in overall human health. Humans have evolved to live symbiotically with microbes, not only to defend against those that harm us, but also to recruit and maintain those from which we derive benefit. Given the crucial role microbes play in both health and disease, an important challenge for scientists is to understand how such relationships are initiated and maintained, how specific microbes are selected as symbionts while others are excluded, and what specific effects beneficial bacteria have on host physiology compared to pathogenic bacteria. Insect pathogenic nematodes and their enteric bacterial symbionts are a stable and mutually beneficial association that exemplifies an animal-bacterium symbiosis like humans and their intestinal gut bacteria. This relationship serves as a model to further understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that sustains it and allows them to communicate and function as a successful entity. In this study, we use this model system to investigate the preference of nematodes for their symbiont bacteria when they are given the choice between native and non-native bacteria. Bacteria are compared at the genus and species level. Results from these experiments may help to uncover the degree to which this symbiotic partnership depends on one another, giving further insight into the specificity of the intricate relationships between microbes and humans. HHMI '10 Grant 52006942; NSF-IOS REU Grant SP Stock funded 3178820 

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