RESEARCH

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Photo: Corrie Moreau

In the Moreau Lab we address questions of the origin, evolutionary history, and ecology of species and species interactions, and in particular, how these factors may influence patterns of diversification using molecular methods, next-generation sequencing, and comparative genomics.

Overall Interests: Biodiversity Genomics and Evolution of Symbiosis – Ultimately we are interested in teasing apart the factors that drive the speciation, adaptation, and evolutionary diversification of biodiversity and how species interactions influence both partners to better understand the broad-scale evolutionary and ecological patterns of life.

Evolutionary Diversification of Insects – Teasing apart the factors that have lead to the prolific diversity of the ants is an active line of research in the Moreau lab.  From the influence of the rise of the flowering plants on the diversification of the ants, associations ants have with other insects, plants, and their diverse microbial community, their trophic ecology, and their biogeographic history are all potential underlying factors that may have facilitated their ecological dominance in almost all terrestrial ecosystems.

Host-Microbe Symbiosis – By coupling information on the phylogeny/evolutionary history and ecology of insect hosts with the diversity and putative function of host-associated microbes we may begin to understand how these interactions are driving the evolution of both partners.  Much of the research in the lab focuses on the phylogeny of the ants and the potential co-evolution of their gut-associated bacteria.  By coupling this information with data on diet, trophic ecology, evolutionary history and biogeography, we hope to gain a better understanding of how these intimate interactions influence patterns of biological diversity.

Biogeography – Moreover we are also pursuing research to understanding the biogeographic patterns and historical processes that shape the distributions of ants on both evolutionary and contemporary timescales.  Using information about current species distributions, evolutionary history, genetic diversity, the impact of invasive ants, and endosymbiotic bacterial communities we hope understand how past climate change has impacted current species and if this information can better inform us to protect biodiversity.

Photo: Gracen Brilmyer

Photo: Gracen Brilmyer

Want to join the lab? – Graduate students interested in joining the Moreau lab are encouraged to apply to the University of Chicago’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology.  There are also postdoctoral, volunteer and undergraduate intern opportunities in my lab through the Field Museum of Natural History (see the bottom of our Home page for more information).

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