In conjunction with the interdisciplinary activities of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), a seminar series on topics in mathematical biology will be hosted at NIMBioS every other Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) in the Hallam Auditorium, Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd. Seminar speakers will focus on their research initiatives at the interface of mathematics and many areas of the life sciences. Light refreshments will be served in Room 205 beginning 30 minutes before each talk. Faculty and students from across the UT community are welcome to join us.
Time/Date: Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 3:30 p.m.*
Location: Room 206, Claxton Building, 1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Speaker: Dr. Megan Rua, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow
Topic: Fantastic Fungi! Exploring the ecological and evolutionary forces which shape host-microbe interactions
Abstract: Coevolution describes evolutionary change in which two or more interacting species reciprocally drive each other's evolution. The strength of this selection process may vary spatially and temporally due to abiotic and biotic contextual factors. Interactions among plant hosts and their microbes may provide an ecologically unique arena in which to examine the nature of selection in multispecies interactions. In particular, interactions between coniferous plants and their microbes provide a good system for experiments exploring the relative importance of biotic versus abiotic sources of selection, as conifers interact with a suite of microorganisms including mutualistic ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM), and these interactions vary along environmental gradients. In one of the first thorough explorations of multi-species interactions, I used observational, experimental, and theoretical approaches to investigate the interaction between plants and their microbes. Preliminary work examining the co-evolutionary relationship between plant hosts and their microbial mutualists indicate that not only fungal species identity but host genetic background play a significant component in shaping host-microbe-microbe relationships. Overall, this work demonstrates that mutualists can have important impacts on not only the host but also on the success of each other and highlights the importance of considering both ecological and evolutionary perspectives when examining the plant microbiome.
*Join us for refreshments at 3 p.m.
Seminar Flyer (pdf)
For more information about this and other NIMBioS Seminars, visit http://www.nimbios.org/seminars.