Understanding the ecological mechanisms governing host-microb interactions CALL 2024

Identifying the processes that control the evolution of mutually beneficial interactions between species, known as mutualisms, is one of the most controversial open questions in evolutionary biology. What controls the evolution of mutualistic relationships? A key to answering these and related questions is the study of the relationship between animals and bacteria, one of the oldest and most widespread forms of mutualism. Despite recent progress in characterising the evolution of mutualism, there is a lack of direct experimental evidence to test evolutionary theories. The factors that drive selection and accompany the evolution of host-microbe interactions remain largely unknown. This research topic aims to investigate the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms governing the relationship between animals and their microbiota, i.e. the bacterial communities associated with them, with a particular focus on understanding how environmental factors (e.g. climate change, dietary shifts, etc.) shape such interactions. Research activities will include classical microbiological approaches, 'omics' techniques (genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics) and the use of different animal models (fish, bivalves, etc.).

Five publications related to the Research Topic for the candidate interview: 

  1. Baldassarre L, Ying H, Reitzel AM, Franzenburg S, Fraune S. Microbiota mediated plasticity promotes thermal adaptation in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 1;13(1):3804. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31350-z. PMID: 35778405; PMCID: PMC9249911.
  2. Miller ET, Svanbäck R, Bohannan BJM. Microbiomes as Metacommunities: Understanding Host-Associated Microbes through Metacommunity Ecology. Trends Ecol Evol. 2018 Dec;33(12):926-935. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2018.09.002. Epub 2018 Sep 25. PMID: 30266244.
  3. Spragge F, Bakkeren E, Jahn MT, B N Araujo E, Pearson CF, Wang X, Pankhurst L, Cunrath O, Foster KR. Microbiome diversity protects against pathogens by nutrient blocking. Science. 2023 Dec 15;382(6676):eadj3502. doi: 10.1126/science.adj3502. Epub 2023 Dec 15. PMID: 38096285.
  4. Robinson CD, Klein HS, Murphy KD, Parthasarathy R, Guillemin K, Bohannan BJM. Experimental bacterial adaptation to the zebrafish gut reveals a primary role for immigration. PLoS Biol. 2018 Dec 10;16(12):e2006893. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2006893. PMID: 30532251; PMCID: PMC6301714.
  5. Valles-Colomer M, Blanco-Míguez A, Manghi P, Asnicar F, Dubois L, Golzato D, Armanini F, Cumbo F, Huang KD, Manara S, Masetti G, Pinto F, Piperni E, Punčochář M, Ricci L, Zolfo M, Farrant O, Goncalves A, Selma-Royo M, Binetti AG, Becerra JE, Han B, Lusingu J, Amuasi J, Amoroso L, Visconti A, Steves CM, Falchi M, Filosi M, Tett A, Last A, Xu Q, Qin N, Qin H, May J, Eibach D, Corrias MV, Ponzoni M, Pasolli E, Spector TD, Domenici E, Collado MC, Segata N. The person-to-person transmission landscape of the gut and oral microbiomes. Nature. 2023 Feb;614(7946):125-135. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05620-1. Epub 2023 Jan 18. PMID: 36653448; PMCID: PMC9892008.

Contact person

Prof. Maria Elena Martino

Department of Comparative biomedicine and food science (https://www.bca.unipd.it/)
University of Padova
tel.: +39-049-8272965
e-mail: mariaelena.martino@unipd.it