All my projects

I am working at Dr. Ab Matteen Rafiqi’s Lab. Our researches are based on Ecological Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Eco-Evo-Devo). We are intrested in the origion of obligate endosymbiosis in the carpenter ants.

Ants within the distantly related order Hymenoptera on the other hand have highly restricted presence of endosymbionts. There are seventeen known ant subfamilies of which endosymbionts are present in only one subfamily, the Formicinae and within this family only in three tribes: Formicini, Plagiolepidini and Camponotini. There is an endosymbiotic relationship between these ants and three different types of bacteria that appear to have originated independent of each other. In case of Camponotini there is evidence of the presence of a single genus of bacteria called Blochmannia. While Blochmannia provides Camponotini ants with nutritional benefits, Camponotini provides Blochmannia with a special cellular environment for proliferation and vertical transmission to new generations. Therefore ants with restricted endosymbionts provide an excellent system to study the interaction between the endosymbionts and the developmental pathways of the host.

Currently, in my project I am trying to investigate the effects of the interaction between endosymbiont and host on Dorsal-Ventral(DV) axis and extraembryonic tissue formation. In order to understand how the establishment of the DV axis and the formation of extraembryonic membranes is altered in the presence of endosymbiont, I will characterize these processes in multiple species within the genus Camponotus wih focus on Camponatus floridanus. For this aim, Bone Morphogenetic Protein signalling, which primarily controls DV patterning in insects will be characterized. This project will help understand the effects of the endosymbiotic interactions on the embryonic development of the host, the formation of the body axis and the gene regulatory networks involved in development. These results will further pave the way for a deeper understanding of the process of endosymbiosis at the organismal level.