ambrosia beetle; in-vitro assays; insect agriculture; sociality; symbiosis; mutualism; fungi; bacteria; nitrogen fixation; fungiculture
Florez Patino Laura V., Biedermann Peter H. W., Engl Tobias, Kaltenpoth Martin (2015), Defensive symbioses of animals with prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms., in Natural Products Reports
, 32(7), 904-936.
Kirkendall Lawrence R., Biedermann Peter H. W., Jordal Bjarte H. (2015), Evolution and diversity of bark and ambrosia beetles., in Vega Fernando E. (ed.), Academic Press, San Diego, 85-156.
Mayers Chase G., McNew Douglas L., Harrington Thomas C., Roeper Richard A., Fraedrich Stephen W., Biedermann Peter H. W., Castrillo Louela A., Reed Sharon E. (2015), Three genera in the Ceratocystidaceae are the respective symbionts of three independent lineages of ambrosia beetles with large, complex mycangia, in Fungal Biology
, 119, 1075-1092.
Aylward Frank O., Suen Garret, Biedermann Peter H. W., Adams Aaron S., Scott Jarrod J., Malfatti Stephanie A., del Rio Tijana Glavina, Tringe Susannah G., Poulsen Michael, Raffa Kenneth F., Klepzig Kier D., Currie Cameron R. (2014), Convergent Bacterial Microbiotas in the Fungal Agricultural Systems of Insects, in MBIO
, 5(6), e02077-14.
Biedermann Peter H. W. (2014), Käfer als Pilzzüchter: Die Biologie der Ambrosiakäfer und wie man sie beobachtet., in Artenschutzreport
, 33, 43-45.
Biedermann Peter H. W., Kaltenpoth Martin (2014), New Synthesis: The Chemistry of Partner Choice in Insect-Microbe Mutualisms, in JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL ECOLOGY
, 40(2), 99-99.
Dohet Loic, Gregoire Jean-Claude, Berasategui Aileen, Kaltenpoth Martin, Biedermann Peter H. W., Bacterial and fungal symbionts of parasitic Dendroctonus bark beetles, in FEMS MICROBIOLOGY ECOLOGY
Van de Peppel Lennart, Wisselink Margo, Aanen Duur K., Biedermann Peter H.W., Genetic diversity in fungal symbionts of ambrosia beetles in Europe., in DGaaE Nachrichten
Fungus farming insects are one of the most exciting examples for the success of symbioses in nature. Ants, termites and ambrosia beetles started to grow fungi for food about 40-60 million years before the rise of human agriculture. Given the insects’ long-term success in agriculture and pest-management, it is promising to examine their sustainable solutions for possible applications in human agriculture. Research on leaf-cutter ants has already revealed the use of nitrogen fixing bacteria as fungus fertilizers and the application of antibiotics produced by symbiotic bacteria to control co-evolved garden parasites.My overall research aim during my time as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (MPI-CE) is to unravel the behavioural and chemical mechanisms of fungus-farming by ambrosia beetles. The result will strongly shape our understanding of how beetles sustainably culture fungi for millions of years and will possibly provide novel ideas for biological control of invasive weevils. In the first part of this project (SNF Early Postdoc.Mobility), I already characterized the microbial communities of two focal ambrosia beetles and determined major bacterial and fungal players. Subsequently, I will test if and how some symbionts defend beetle nests against pathogenic moulds. Preliminary results show that (i) multiple ambrosia fungi are transmitted and simultaneously co-occur within fungus gardens of Xyleborinus saxesenii and Xylosandrus germanus; (ii) ambrosia fungi appear in gardens in succession, suggesting different roles and (iii) a major part of the associated bacterial communities are made up by bacterial groups possibly having either nitrogen-recycling or nitrogen-fixing capabilities. These symbionts may be involved in the beetle´s ability to enhance growth in their crop fungi, which I plan to investigate in the project I propose here.In this follow-up project, I will investigate the succession of ambrosia fungi and moulds within gardens over time and if/how experimental removal of farming beetles influences fungal succession using target-specific primers and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Furthermore, I will focus on synergistic effects between beetles and associated symbionts. Specifically, I will quantify and test experimentally how ambrosia beetles can trigger the fruiting of their cultivars and whether this effect involves the application of other symbionts. Finally, I want to investigate the role of nitrogen-recycling and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in this nitrogen limited environment.Dr. Kaltenpoth’s group at the MPI-CE is among the world-leading institutions to study insect-microbial symbioses. Many state-of-the-art molecular and chemical techniques, which I want to learn or deepen my knowledge in, belong to the standard repertoire of my colleagues there. Thus, I cannot think of a better environment to conduct high-profile research and to grow as an interdisciplinary scientist, professionally and personally.