Attine 2018

With support from Emory’s SPRINT program with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), we brought a small group of biologists together to explore latest research and  potential for collaboration in studying the evolution of the fungus-growing ant symbiosis. Attendees included (from left to right in the photo): top row, Cameron Currie (Wisconsin), Andre Rodrigues (UNESP-RC – Brazil), Tim Read (Emory), Kendra Autumn (Utah), Bryn Dentinger (Utah), Caio Leal-Dutra (Aberystwyth), Aileen Berasategui (Emory), Ted Schultz (Smithsonian); bottom row, Caitlin Conn (Emory), Nicole Gerardo, Quimi Montoya (UNESP, Emory) and Mauricio Bacci (UNESP-RC).

It was an amazing few days of science.


Nicole had the opportunity to see former lab techs Tarik Acevedo and Tiff Alcaide while visiting Penn State this week. Tarik is currently a grad student in soil sciences at Penn State, and Tiff is a lab tech in soil sciences.

Great to see these two!

ESA 2018

The Entomological Society of America Meeting brought together researchers from around the world studying insect symbioses. Jacob Russell and Molly Hunter organized a great session.

Martin Kaltenpoth, Hassan Salem and Nicole Gerardo after an excellent coffee at ESA in Vancouver.

One worm at a time…


Today, Kim Hoang sent the following:

“I finished experimental evolution!! It took over a year: July 13, 2017 – November 8, 2018”

What an amazing accomplishment. Kim’s experiment focuses on the evolution of a novel beneficial symbiosis between C. elegans and a bacteria that protects them from heat shock. So much work!

Aphids, Wings, Fungus: A Tale of Many Experiments

We recently had a paper come out examining under what conditions aphids begin to produce winged offspring upon fungal infection (Tan et al. 2018). Following on a previous paper from another group suggesting that aphids produce winged offspring upon fungal infection, our research started as a rotation project by Wen Hao Tan to examine whether bacterial symbionts that protect against fungal pathogens would alter the response. Through a set of careful experiments by Wen Hao, Miguel Reyes and Kim Hoang, we show that aphids do produce more winged aphids after fungal infection…. sometimes. Why it happens sometimes and not others, despite our best efforts, is not yet clear. Fredrick Leon, an undergrad in the lab, is following up now.



New Arrivals: Scott and Quimi

Dr. Scott Villa recently joined the laboratory as an IRACDA FIRST program postdoctoral fellow. Scott received his PhD from the University of Utah, where he conducted a series of elegant experiments to study the impacts of lice adaptation to alternative pigeon hosts. This work was with Dale Clayton.

Scott will be developing the squash bug – Burkholderia system as a model to explore the impacts of symbiosis on sexual selection, hybridization, and reproductive isolation.

Quimi Vidaurre Montoya is a graduate from the laboratory of Andre Rodrigues. He is a mycologist studying the diversity, evolution and taxonomy of Escovopsis, a fungal parasite associated with the gardens of fungus-growing ants. We are excited to bring his expertise and love for fungi into the lab.

Undergrad Kino Maravillas receives research funding

by Nicole Gerardo

Kino received a grant from Emory to fund his collaborative research with postdoc Erika Diaz-Almeyda on how milpa agriculture (the planting of corn, beans and squash together) shapes the soil microbial community. The planting experiments were carried out at Oxford Farm, near Emory’s Oxford campus. We are so grateful for their support.

College for Life Sciences Fellowship from the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

by Nicole Gerardo

Postdoc Hassan Salem has officially left us for a journey to Berlin. He will continue his work while getting an opportunity to interact with leaders in the fields of symbiosis and evolutionary biology, including Nancy Moran, Joan Strassmann, Koos Boomsma, Howard Ochman and Dave Queller. Right now, it appears that they are helping him perfect his basic drawing skills.