Rapid change in host specificity in a field population of the biological control organism Pasteuria penetrans – open access publication here
This paper represents the beginning of a collaboration with Patricia Timper at the USDA. I worked with Patty and her graduate student, Chang Liu (now a postdoc at the University of Florida) to track yearly shifts in the host specificity of a biological control parasite. We found dramatic spatial and temporal variation in the specificity of the parasite Pasteuria penetrans for its host, the plant-parasitic nematode (and arch nemesis of Georgia peanuts) Meloidogyne arenaria. Following up on this work, we’re interested in 1) what drives temporal change in parasite specificity? (is it evolution? even reciprocal adaptation?) and 2) what are the implications of the evolution of specificity for the efficacy of biological control?
Helena Baffoe-Bonnie earned highest honors from Emory University for her senior honors thesis in the Morran lab! Helena conducted a really nice test of an hypothesis for the evolution of parasite host range using lineages of the parasite Serratia marcescens that we’d experimentally evolved in the lab to kill the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Now Helena’s heading to Baltimore to take an NIH IRTA fellowship in the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Congratulations Helena – you’re a star!
Lots of folks contributed to Helena’s work, including Levi Morran, McKenna Penley, Raythe Owens, Dilys Osei, Julie Lin, and Arooj Khalid.
The Gibson lab at the University of Virginia is now officially open for business! We’re recruiting undergraduate and graduate students – reach out via email to learn more or stop by Gilmer Hall if you’re on grounds.
Kayla Stoy wrote up a great piece for the Science Breaker summarizing a recent theory paper we wrote together for the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. Kayla’s currently a 2nd-year PhD student at Emory University. Nice work Kayla!