Start Year: 2014, 1st cohort
Host University: The University of Liverpool
Department: Institute of Integrative Biology
Supervisors: Dr Alistair Derby, Dr Zenobia Lewis
Skills and relevant qualifications:
ACCE PhD Research topic
Investigating the relationship between gut microbiota and animal behaviour
There is growing interest in the mutualistic relationships between gut microbiota and their hosts, yet the link between gut flora and behaviour has remained largely unexplored, despite potential consequences for social evolution and speciation. Previous work has shown that gut microbiota can affect the ability of Drosophila melanogaster to recognise kin, however universality of this phenomena, and the mechanisms underlying it, are unknown. This cross-disciplinary project will investigate the role of gut microbiota in sexual and social recognition systems, in species of Drosophila with varied ecologies. This project will use a variety of methods – conventional behavioural and evolutionary ecology, combined with microbiology while also utilise cutting-edge genomic technologies and bioinformatics methods. We aim to address the following objectives: 1) Determine which gut bacteria underlie processes of kin recognition and mate choice. 2) Examine whether gut bacteria is directly linked to the scent profile of an individual. 3) Examine the mechanism underlying the interaction between gut flora and kin recognition in Drosophila.