The core bacterial genome of fungus-farming termite microbiomes

Hovedområde:Molecular Microbiology
Målgruppe:Bioinformatics, Biology

Fungus-farming termites (Macrotermes) cultivate Termitomyces fungi as their main food source, and both termites and fungi obligately depend on each other. This trivalent symbiotic relationship (including fungal comb and termite microbiomes) has existed for ~30 million years without the apparent development of specialised disease. The termite fungal gardens always achieve a monoculture of Termitomyces in the wild. Removal of the termites leads to a rapid take-over by the invasive Xylaria species. This indicates the termites play an important role in the persistence of this monoculture. We theorise the microbiome of Macrotermes could be substantially involved in this monoculture maintenance

This project will focus on characterising the core genome of the microbiome across worker (both major and minor) caste termites. Whilst the functionality of a microbiome may stay consistent, the exact strain/species make up could vary. Thus, identifying a core set of genes rather than bacteria could provide greater insight into the functional role of the microbiome in this symbiosis. Depending on how quick you obtain the core microbiome we could start to look into annotation of the core genome and determining functions.

Anvendte metoder:Mining of metagenomic data through various bioinformatics methods. Familiarity with Unix and R would be beneficial.
Keywords:Microbiology, Bioinformatics, Microbiome, Genetics, Symbiosis
Vejleder(e): Michael Poulsen and PhD students Veronica Sinotte and Robert Murphy