Project Description

Our lab focuses on how competitive and mutualistic interactions affect the evolution and coexistence of species. Our goal is to test theoretical models explaining the maintenance of genetic variation. Specifically, we work on bacteria that are insect pathogens and mutualistic partners of nematodes. These bacteria produce anti-competitor toxins that can kill closely related bacterial strains. We are characterizing the degree to which these toxins are beneficial in a competitive context, and in what ways their production can be costly in other contexts. We are also examining sequence variation among natural isolates these bacteria examine variation in toxin loci vis-a-vis diversity in other parts of the genome.

Technology or Computational Component

CEWiT students will be involved in statistical analysis of their data using techniques such as proportional hazards regression, logistic regression and analyses of covariance via SAS or R. Depending on the student and the project, they will be involved in designing primers and analyzing quantitative PCR data or bioinformatics analyses of bacterial genomes.