Fall 2020 update
I've been remiss in announcing many wonderful things that have happened in the lab this summer and fall!
We welcomed Patrick Stillson as the lab's first PhD student. Patrick completed his masters degree at Michigan State University, where he studied the insect vectors of aster yellows phytoplasma. At UTA, he has already made fast progress on two projects: characterizing Wolbachia infections in Jalysus and comparing the genomes of symbiotic Burkholderia strains. For his dissertation, Patrick plans to study the Leptoglossus-Burkholderia symbiosis.
We were also lucky to hire Jon Adamson as our lab tech. Jon is a UTA graduate with expertise in microbiology, plant husbandry, and biochemistry. He has kept the lab running like a well-oiled machine, despite COVID! You can read more about Jon and Patrick on our "People" page.
Finally, both Patrick and I are presenting on-demand talks at the Entomology 2020 conference this week. Patrick's talk - which, impressively, results from his first summer and fall of work at UTA! - explores the prevalence and diversity of Wolbachia strains in the rarely-studied stilt bug genus Jalysus, helping to fill our large knowledge gap on Wolbachia infections in the order Hemiptera. My talk is on the butterfly gut microbiota. Because butterflies have become something of a "poster child" for animals that lack a specific, stable relationship with gut microbiota, I tested the hypothesis that microbiota might be costly to butterflies when food is scarce. However, I found no evidence that gut microbiota are costly. If you're attending EntSoc2020, we hope you'll check out both of the lab's presentations this year!