Project Areas

We are interested in the evolution of
insect-microbial interactions
and adaptive radiations!

Our research program seeks to understand how complex animal-microbe symbioses co-evolve and shape biological diversity. We are also generally interested in questions of how ecological opportunity shapes insect evolution and diversity.
We typically use insect systems, field studies, and advanced molecular and genomic tools to understand the mechanisms that drive these interactions.

The main theme of our current work addresses the question of how hosts and their microbial symbionts are fused into an integrated system. Symbioses are widespread across all animals; they are essential to organismal function, health, and development. However, study systems that provide a clear understanding of how microbes co-evolve and interact with their hosts are limited. Thus, we work to develope experimentally tractable model insect systems that rely on a simple set of bacteria for essential nutrition.

Co-evolution of Insect-Microbial Symbioses

Current Projects

Co-evolution and functional integration of obligate bacterial symbionts

Comparative genomics in Auchenorrhyncha-microbe symbioses

Native Hawaiian Insect Microbiome Initiative (NHIMI)

Current Projects

Initiation and development of NHIMI collaborations

Development of protocols with C-MAIKI

Adaptive Radiations in Native Hawaiian Insects


Current Projects

Collaboration with Dimensions in Biodivesity Project at UC.Berkeley

Adaptive radiation of native Hawaiian leafhoppers and other endemic groups

Insect Pathogen Interactions

Current Projects

Determination of insect vectors of Rapid Ohia Death, Ceratocystis fimbriata