Host-microbiota coevolution in the mammalian intestine
Understanding the forces that shape variation in host-associated bacterial communities within- and between host species is key to understanding the evolution and maintenance of metaorganisms.
While a multitude of studies have investigated the influence of genetic and environmental factors at the level of community profiling, little information on the underlying functional genomic basis exists. In this project, we will identify signatures of coevolution between hosts and their intestinal microbes, using a multi-tiered approach in the Western-Eastern house mouse and human-chimpanzee host species pairs. First, we will employ genetic mapping to identify host genes that vary within and/or between species and influence microbial traits. These efforts will be aided using a “systems genetics” approach by incorporating genome-wide expression data in the mouse system and molecular population genetic analysis of host genomic regions. Second, candidate bacterial group (trait) signals will be further investigated, using a combination of shotgun metagenomic sequencing and single-cell/isolate analysis to characterize them at the functional level and identify potential signatures of adaptation to their hosts.