Abstracts (first author)
Experimental evolution and transcriptomics of Tribolium castaneum infections with Bacillus thuringiensis
Experimental evolution of hosts and parasites can help to elucidate the genomic basis of fast evolutionary processes. We are therefore using experimental coevolution in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum and its microparasite Bacillus thuringiensis to address evolving genetic specificity, while experimental selection on the hosts' immune system addresses the evolution of immunological specificity. We use two different infection routes, the oral route of infection, and infection through septic prick injury, which brings the bacterium into direct contact with the host’s immune system. Through RNA sequencing we characterised the genomic responses of the host to these two infection routes. We found astonishingly distinct transcriptomic responses for oral versus septic infection. To test for genetic differences between host populations we compared the transcriptomic responses to infection between a commonly used laboratory strain and a newly collected, genetically diverse field population. Not only is the latter population more resistant upon oral infection, but we also found that a much higher number of genes were differentially expressed after oral infection. Studying the transcriptomes of the evolved hosts will thus shed further light on the genomic basis of host-parasite coevolution.