Our work on Spiroplasma evolution in Drosophila is now available as a preprint here. This is the first publication from my postdoctoral work with Greg Hurst at the University of Liverpool. It was also a very nice collaboration with great people from Liverpool, Texas A&M and EPFL. The work was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement 703379.
Spiroplasma is a very interesting symbiont with lots of peculiar features (I'd recommend these reviews about its biology). After some mostly anecdotal evidence that Spiroplasma symbionts evolve quickly, we here have determined Spiroplasma mutational rates systematically. We find that indeed, Spiroplasma can be considered a hypermutator, especially when compared with Wolbachia (the only other natural inherited symbiont of Drosophila). There are some interesting implications for Spiroplasma evolutionary ecology that arise from this which we discuss in the manuscript. We also show and discuss lots of comparative genomics data.
If you want to learn more, please have a look at the video below which is a recording of my presentation about this work from the Symbiosis Seminar Series organised by Nicole Gerardo and Greg Hurst.
I have joined the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences at Oxford Brookes University as Lecturer in Ecology and Conservation. I am looking forward to establishing a group here and to teaching in Ecology, Conservation, and Biodiversity.
I want to acknowledge all the people how have been very supportive since I moved to the UK, especially Greg Hurst, who was a great mentor and a lot of fun to work with, and Kayla King, who helped me with the transition to Oxford. Thank you!
New research with my input was also published:
This post is a ‘behind the paper’ story of our publication ‘Short reads from honey bee (Apis sp.) sequencing projects reflect microbial associate diversity’ which was just published in PeerJ. I will explain the motivation behind the study and also show some new data generated with our approach.
UPDATE (July 24, 2017): Our paper was covered in the "The Molecular Ecologist" blog: http://www.molecularecologist.com/2017/07/genomes-are-coming-sequence-libraries-from-the-honey-bee-reflect-associated-microbial-diversity/
Part one: background & motivation
I work as a postdoc in Greg Hurst’s group, who has projects on many different bacterial symbionts (https://sites.google.com/site/hurstlab/home). The project of his PhD student Georgia Drew aims to identify the potential impacts of Arsenophonus on honey bee health (https://eegid.wordpress.com/phd-students/georgia-drew/). This bacterium is an inherited symbiont of arthropods, and has been found in honey bees and other bees occasionally (Aizenberg-Gershtein et al. 2013; Gerth et al. 2015; Yañez et al. 2016; McFrederick et al. 2017). Its exact role in honey bees is unclear, and this is what Georgia studies.
I became involved when Greg suggested to extract genomic data of the honey bee associated Arsenophonus from Apis Illumina data stored public databases. In many cases, symbionts are sequenced inadvertently alongside with their hosts, and a number of symbiont genomes have been extracted from sequencing data of their hosts before (e.g., Salzberg et al. 2005; Siozios et al. 2013). There’s plenty of honey bee sequencing data around, so it was definitely worth checking if we could get an Arsenophonus genome ‘for free’, without actually sequencing it ourselves.
Our new paper "Comparative genomics provides a timeframe for Wolbachia evolution and exposes a recent biotin synthesis operon transfer" was published today!
Check out the paper here: www.nature.com/articles/nmicrobiol2016241 – please email me for a pdf of this article!
I also wrote a short "Behind the paper" blogpost for the Nature Microbiology Community website.
Read it here:
EDIT (July 12, 2017): You can access the paper for free under http://rdcu.be/t8tX
This is the website of Michael Gerth. I am a biologist with an interest in insects and the microbes within them. Click here to learn more.