Nancy A Moran
William H. Fleming, M.D. Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Symbiosis; Genomics; Evolutionary Biology; metagenomics; metabolism
Current Projects1. Dimensions of Biodiversity: “Genomics, Functional Roles, and the Diversity of the Gut Microbiotae of Honey Bees and Bumble Bees.” Grant begins January 1, 2011 (PI is Nancy Moran; co-PIs is Jay Evans (Bee Laboratory, USDA), collaborator is Rachael Winfree (Rutgers Univ.))
The research will determine genome sequences and metabolic capabilities for bacterial species that occur in bee guts and will probe how their abundances and gene expression respond when hosts are subjected to different environments.
2. Environmental Genomics: "Mutation in Genomes of Obligate Symbionts and Impacts on the Ecological Tolerances and Distributions of Hosts: Buchnera and Pea Aphids"
This project focuses on mutations affecting symbiont genomes and on how these mutations impact the functioning and environmental tolerances of aphid hosts.
3. Microbial Genomics: "Highly Reduced Genomes of Coresident Bacterial Symbionts of Xylem-Feeding Insects: Ecological and Evolutionary Implications"
This research, collaborative with John McCutcheon, uses NextGen sequencing and other methods to reconstruct the extremely small genomes of bacteria that are symbiotic in insects feeding on plant sap or wood.
My research focus is on symbiosis, particularly that between multicellular hosts and bacteria. Symbioses are central in the evolution of biological complexity; have evolved many times and are critical to the lifestyles of many animals and plants and also to whole ecosystems, in which symbiotic organisms are key players. The primary reason that symbiosis research is suddenly active, after decades at the margins of mainstream biology, is that DNA technology and genomics give us enormous new ability to discover symbiont diversity, and more significantly, to reveal how microbial metabolic capabilities contribute to the functioning of hosts and biological communities. Current projects concern genomic approaches to understanding symbiont functions and symbiont evolution in herbivorous insects (aphids) and in pollinators (honey bees).