by Nicole Gerardo
Members (and former members) of the Gerardo Lab have recently published two commentaries related to symbiosis.
Ben Parker and I wrote a piece for a symbiosis-centric of issue of Current Opinions in Insect Science on the mechanisms underlying symbiont-conferred protection. While focusing on systems in which insects are protected by microbes against pathogens and parasites and systems in which insects are less able to vector pathogens and parasites when the vectors harbor particular symbionts, the principles apply to non-insect systems as well. From an ecological perspective, symbiont-conferred protection is akin to forms of direct competition. Symbionts can directly harm the invader through production of toxins, may compete with the invader for resources, or may alter the host immune systems such that it hampers the persistence of the invader.
Justine Garcia developed a review piece that she originally wrote as part of her graduate qualifying exam onto a commentary on the need to consider the ecological and evolutionary underpinnings of symbiosis from the perspective of the symbiont. What are the costs and benefits of host association for the symbiont? This is particularly informative for environmentally acquired symbionts where the microbes can persist in non-host environments. The articles is available in Frontiers in Microbiology.