Microbiota-host interactions at the base of the metazoan tree

This project, within the CRC 1182 “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms”, addresses in a comparative approach the presence, establishment and functional consequences of microbiota in two basal metazoan animals, the cnidarian Aurelia aurita and the comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi (Ctenophora).

We mainly focus on and compare the role of the environment, external disturbance and challenge by opportunistic pathogens for the specificity and functioning of associated microbiota. By doing so we aim to get insights into general and specific host-microbe interactions and fitness-correlated functions of the associated microbiota as well as deciphering the functions of microbes in the metaorganism(s). Therefore we (I) analyze the relative effects of environment vs. host genotypes on the establishment and the composition of the respective microbiota, (II) evaluate the role of the microbiota for host fitness correlated functions (survival, growth, reproductive output), (III) study mechanisms of signal exchange between host and microbiota, including Quorum Quenching strategies (interference with bacterial cell-cell communication). Finally, we will assess how associated microbiota is involved in host defense targeting opportunistic pathogens. Addressing and elucidating these aspects will not only contribute to the understanding of host interactions with microbial communities, but also aims to provide conceptual insights into the complexity of host-microbe interactions in general. The identification of underlying principles in basal metazoan-host interactions is imperative to understand, how metazoan life emerged in a “soup of microbes” in the ocean.

Web-pages of Origin and Function of Metaorganisms - B2: Microbiota-host interactions at the base of the metazoan tree

Microbiota-host interactions at the base of the metazoan tree