Zoom webinar recording:
Passcode: this recording is only available to members of the Biodiversity Research Centre. Please contact Katie Beall for the passcode
Title: Why mutualisms vary in quality, and why it matters
My lab studies the ecology and evolution of plant-animal and host-microbe mutualisms. There is growing appreciation for mutualism among biologists, in part thanks to microbiome science, which has revealed that microbes often positively contribute to the development, metabolism, immunity, or overall fitness of their hosts. The success of many microbiome therapies and applications is also predicated on their potential to benefit hosts, i.e., predicated on microbes being mutualistic, ideally across host genotypes and environments. In this talk, I will describe the results of several recent projects investigating the ecological and evolutionary forces that make some partners better mutualists than others. First, I will discuss new work linking mutualist quality in a defensive ant-plant symbiosis to viral infection. Second, I will show how local adaptation of microbes to hosts leads to greater cooperation in the legume-rhizobium symbiosis. Finally, I will describe how microbiome community assembly and evolution affect stress tolerance and fitness in duckweeds, a system my lab is developing to conduct massively parallel, high-throughput host-microbiome experiments.