Welcome to the McCutcheon lab
No organism exists alone. Bacteria, no matter
where they live, must cope with the presence of huge numbers of other bacteria
competing for the same space. Animals are coated, both in and out, with complex
communities of microorganisms. Sometimes these interactions benefit one or more
of the partners, and become stable in evolutionary time. They become symbioses.
We are interested in how and why symbioses form, how they are maintained, and
what happens as the associations become more and more intertwined.
We work with a number of symbioses, including sap-feeding insects and their endosymbiotic bacteria, ambrosia beetles and their ectosymbiotic fungi, and the consortia of fungal and photosynthetic partners that form lichens. We use a variety of approaches—genomics, microscopy, molecular biology, molecular evolution, biochemistry, and field biology—to address our questions.