Brittany F. Peterson
Broadly, I am interested in understanding symbiotic relationships in ecological and evolutionary contexts. The diversity in form and function of invertebrates combined with their complex relationships with microbes make them great study systems for symbiosis. My doctoral research focused on termite-microbe physiological collaborations in regard to wood digestion and pathogen defense. Here at University of Arizona, I am working with Dr. Patricia Stock as a PERT fellow. As a postdoc, my research is focusing on understanding the dynamic life cycles of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) and their bacterial symbionts. EPNs spend part of their lives as free-living, soil dwelling animals and part of their lives as insect pathogens. Their bacterial partners also fluctuate between pathogenic (in the insect host) and mutualistic (in the nematode host) lifestyles. I’m interested in the physiological interactions and constraints that govern these switches.