Dr. Erik Hom from the Biology Department will present “Of Chance and Necessity: Novel Fungal-Algal Mutualisms” to the department.
My lab is interested in understanding the rules of the game for how microbes symbiose or interact in a persistent fashion and form stable communities that perform specified functions. I am particularly interested in how such microbial interactions first form and evolve, and the role of the physicochemical environment in influencing these processes. In this seminar, I will describe a suite of obligate mutualisms that I created between free-living fungi and algae based on a simple carbon:nitrogen metabolic exchange circuit. I will present the logic of my approach and share some results exploring the robustness, dynamics, and phylogenetically breadth of this capacity for mutualism. I will also describe how these mutualisms set the stage for further molecular genetic and chemical characterization as well as computational modeling.