Microbiomes & host physiology and function
Animals are often teeming with an incredible diversity and abundance of microorganisms. The vast microbial genetic repertoire of resident microorganisms can regulate host pathways and also be a source of novel enzymes, metabolites and traits – ranging from provisioning of essential nutrients to protecting hosts against parasites. The remarkable diversity of functional benefits and intricacy of host-microbe associations is perhaps best seen in the insects. Insects are a hugely diverse group of organisms that feed on a wide range of diets, many of which would not be utilisable were it not for their microbial symbionts. We are interested in understanding the molecular basis and the emerging consequences of insect-microbe associations. We are especially interested in phytophagous insects and those that feed on ephemeral resources. One of the lab’s aim is to elucidate the mechanisms of microbiome-mediated digestion and nutritional supplementation and to understand initiation and maintenance of long term inter-specific interactions. The other is to utilise our knowledge of these fundamental interactions to develop applications in health and agriculture. We use a variety of approaches – metagenomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, microscopy, ecology and natural history to address these questions.
- Shukla SP, et al. Microbiome-assisted carrion preservation aids larval development in a burying beetle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018, 115(44): 11274-11279
- Vogel H and Shukla SP, et al. The digestive and defensive basis of carrion utilization by the burying beetle and its microbiota. Nature Communications. 2017, 8:15186
- Shukla SP and Beran F. Gut microbiota degrades toxic isothiocyanates in a flea beetle pest. Molecular Ecology. 2020; 00:1–14
- Shukla SP, et al. Gut microbiota of dung beetles correspond to dietary specializations of adults and larvae. Molecular Ecology, 25(4): 6092-6106
- Berasategui A, et al. Potential applications of insect symbionts in biotechnology. 2016. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 100(4): 1567-1577