Welcome to the McCutcheon lab

Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana

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.

Please look around our site, in particular at the publications and people pages, to learn more about who we are and what we do, and feel free to email us with questions.