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Department of Biology
University of Pennsylvania
Why is a plant biologist giving a MindCORE seminar? Cooperation, conflict, and crosstalk in host-microbe interactions
My lab studies cooperation, conflict, and crosstalk in host-microbe interactions. We primarily use plants and microbes to study these phenomena. I will give a brief overview of the ways in which microbiome research borrows from and contributes to the economics of cooperation and the biology of communication (e.g., signaling and eavesdropping). I’ll share several vignettes from my lab’s research in a model system for host-microbe interactions: the symbiosis between legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. We’ve discovered extensive crosstalk between these symbiotic bacteria and a co-infecting parasitic nematode. The parasite inhibits the symbiont, while the symbiont facilitates parasite infection. In a project on the transcriptomic basis of this crosstalk, we showed that the symbiont affects host gene expression at the site of parasite infection, and that parasite infection alters gene expression at the host-symbiont interface as well. I’ll conclude with an overview of two new research directions in my lab: how climate change and urbanization impact cooperation and conflict between plants and their microbial symbionts.
Pizza will be served. Please bring your own beverage.