Mutualistic host-microbe coevolution and environmental adaptation

Stephanie Porter, PhD
Friday, March 3, 2017 - 3:30pm to 4:20pm
BioMed B-103

Abstract: Cooperation between plants and animals and the beneficial microbes
they acquire from the environment plays a fundamental role in
evolutionary diversification, ecosystem function, and agriculture.
Despite the importance of these mutualisms, we are only beginning to
understand how the cooperation between hosts and their environmentally
acquired symbionts evolves. Environmental context can alter the
fitness benefits of host-symbiont cooperation, drive patterns of
environmental adaptation, and impact patterns of coevolution. In this
talk I ask, how do coevolution and environmental adaptation intersect
to impact the evolutionary trajectory of environmentally acquired
symbiosis? The model symbiosis between leguminous plants and
nitrogen-fixing rhizobium bacteria is a powerful system for examining
this question as these partners are experimentally tractable and occur
across a strong environmental gradient. To connect environmental and
co-evolutionary adaptation, I integrate the results of
cross-inoculation experiments with rhizobium draft genome sequencing
and laboratory assays of environmental tolerance.