Meta-omics approach to explore microbial community of the wood ant Formica exsecta

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Title: Meta-omics approach to explore microbial community of the wood ant Formica exsecta
Author: Dhaygude, Kishor Uttam
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Doctoral Programme in Wildlife Biology
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019-12-14
Language: en
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: The majority of the planet's biological diversity comprises of diverse microorganisms, including large communities of insects. It is only through symbiotic, pathogenic and vectoring association, a diverse relationship between the microorganisms and the insects can be established. In spite of having an independent interaction, microorganisms are expected to fulfill the important roles of insect nutrition, reproduction, development, as well as behavioral resistance to pathogen colonization. So to understand the molecular diversity, population structure, and ecological importance of the majority of microorganisms, it is very essential to discover and characterize these microbial communities. The multi-omics approaches have the potential of in-depth screening of microorganisms as well as answering some fundamental microbial ecology questions. So, multi-omics approaches and bioinformatic analysis are considered as the powerful tool to study the non-model microbes and ultimately to study the composition and function of dynamic microbial communities. In spite of these, the microbial community largely remains unknown to the domain of social insects. This thesis majorly utilizes the multi-omics approaches for demonstrating the dynamic interplay between host and microbes. On the basis of the observational study it has been found that pathogenic and natural microbial community are associated with ant Formica exsecta. The findings included members of several endogenous bacterial phyla, such as Wolbachia, two obligate endogenous and possibly entomopathogenic fungi, as well as complete genomes of three novel RNA viruses belonging to the classes of Iflaviridae, Dicistroviridae and Mononegavirales. In this thesis, RNA sequencing data for the ant F. exsecta constructed from the samples of several life stages of both sexes as well as female castes of queens and workers to maximize the representation of expressed genes. Additionally, for the first time the horizontal gene transfer is demonstrated in this thesis from Wolbachia endosymbiont to host F. exsecta ant genome and at the same time the process of releasing of the first genome of Wolbachia endosymbiont from ant species. Moreover, the focus of thesis is on genome organization and molecular characterization of the three F. exsecta viruses and at the same time explaining the viral transmission in other related ant species. By adopting the advantages of the power of genomic technologies, this thesis tries to provide new insights into the host and microbe interactions, and the evolution of host-parasite genomes in a more general framework. However, in general the studies of this thesis provide useful information, guidelines and resources for social insects and genomics research.
Subject: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
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