Symbiotic interactions range from pathogenic, where one organism exploits another, to mutualism, where both organisms benefit. On the antagonistic end, parasitic symbionts cause virulent diseases and are an important factor driving biological diversification. At the opposite end, mutualisms, once thought to be rare and of limited importance, are now recognized as having helped shape the evolution of life on Earth (e.g., the role of endosymbiotic bacteria in the origin of eukaryotic cells, the reliance of ~90% of land plants on mycorrhizal fungi, and the dependence of many animals on microbes to aid digestion). The importance of symbiosis is further exemplified by the increased interest in this area shown by the National Institute of Health over the last 3-5 years. For example, the sequencing of the human "microbiome" is now one of their major thrust areas. The basis for this is founded upon the increasing recognition that human health can be strongly influenced by non-pathogenic microbial symbionts. Despite the importance of symbiosis, including for human health, theory in this area is greatly lacking. Studies exploring model systems are greatly need to generate insights into critical factors shaping symbiotic associations. My work using the fungus-growing ant system is focused on helping generate theory in the field of symbiosis. In addition to work in this area, I am initiating a project to apply my evolutionary perspective, my knowledge in the field of symbiosis, and my experience studying host-microbe coevolution to the human microbiome.
Cameron R. Currie, PhD
1550 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
PhD, University of Toronto
Evolution of host-microbe interactions, including both pathogenic and beneficial microbes. We are particularly interested in: i) the evolution of virulence, ii) determining the factors that shape host-microbe specificity, iii) exploring factors limiting and/or facilitating broad host jumps, iv) and host-microbe coevolutionary dynamics. Our main model system is the fungus-growing ant–microbe symbiosis.
Aylward, F.O., Burnum, K.E., Scott, J.J., Suen, G., Tringe, S.G., Adams, S.M., Berry, K.W., Nicora, C.D., Purvine, S.O., Starrett, G.J., Goodwin, L.A., Smith, R.D., Lipton, M.S. & C.R. Currie. 2012. Metagenomic and Metaproteomic Insights into Lignocellulose Degradation in Leaf-cutter Ant Fungus Gardens. The ISME Journal doi:10.1038/ismej.2012.10.
Frank O Aylward, Cameron R Currie, Garret Suen. The Evolutionary Innovation of Nutritional Symbioses in Leaf-cutter Ants. Insects. 2012; 3(1):41-61
Frank O Aylward, Kristin E Burnum, Jarrod J Scott, Garret Suen, Susannah G Tringe, Sandra M Adams, Kerrie W Barry, Carrie D Nicora, Paul D Piehowski, Samuel O Purvine, Gabriel J Starrett, Lynne A Goodwin, Richard D Smith, Mary S Lipton & Cameron R Currie. Metagenomic and metaproteomic insights into bacterial communities in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens. The ISME Journal, advance online publication, 1 March 2012; doi:10.1038/ismej.2012.10
Klassen and Currie: Gene fragmentation in bacterial draft genomes: extent, consequences and mitigation. BMC Genomics 2012 13:14.
Poulsen, M, Oh, D., Clardy, J. & C. R. Currie 2011. Chemical analyses of wasp-associated Streptomyces bacteria reveal a prolific potential for natural products discovery. Public Library of Science ONE 6 (2): e16763.
Adams, A.S., M.S. Jordan, S.M. Adams, G. Suen, L.A. Goodwin, K.W. Davenport, C.R. Currie, and K.F. Raffa. 2011. Cellulose-degrading bacteria associated with the invasive woodwasp Sirex noctilio. ISME J, doi:10.1038/ismej.2011.14
Scott, J.J., Budsberg, K.J., Suen, G., Wixon, D., Balser, T.C. and C.R. Currie. 2010. Microbial Community Structure of Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens and Refuse Dumps. Public Library of Science ONE 5(3): e9922.
Adams, A.S., Adams, S.M., Currie, C.R., Gillette, N.E., and Raffa, K.F. 2010. Geographic variation in bacterial communities associated with the red turpentine beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Environ. Entomol. 39: 406-414.
Gauthier, G.M, Sullivan, T.D., Gallardo, S.S., Brandhorst, T.T., Vanden Wymelenberg, A.J., Cuomo, C., Suen, G., Currie, C.R., and Klein, B.S. 2010. SREB, a GATA transcription factor that directs disparate fates in Blastomyces dermatitidis including morphogenesis and siderophore biosynthesis. PLoS Pathologens 6: e1000846.
Poulsen, M. and Currie, C.R. 2010. Symbiont interactions in a tripartite mutualism: Exploring the presence and impact of antagonism between two fungus-growing ant mutualists. PLoS One. 5: e8748