Enhancing biocontrol research with genomic methods
Innovations within the realm of genetic sequencing have led to increased accessibility for biologists, both in terms of costs as well as the educational resources available, regardless of background. The field of biocontrol and research into biocontrol agents can benefit greatly from these advances.
This project seeks to explore the genetic variation in wild-caught and commercially reared populations of select biocontrol species by using sequences as small as microsatellites all the way to fully annotated de novo genomes. The goal is to add to existing knowledge of these biocontrol agents, which in turn will allow researchers to develop applications that require genomes.
I work with Trichogramma brassicae (parasitoid wasp), Nesidiocoris tenuis (predatory bug), and Amblyseious swirskii (predatory mite). Using both population genetic and population genomic approaches, I hope to answer questions related to genetic variation and its part in risk assessment and use of biocontrol agents. For instance, is there evidence for decreased variation in commercial populations of a biocontrol agent compared to their wild counterparts? And does it have a negative impact? Another question, is there a way to differentiate a particular population of a biocontrol agent post-release into a different population, and what is the best method? This project is part of the BINGO-ITN, Breeding Invertebrates for Next Generation BioControl, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (www.bingo-itn.eu for more info).
Unfortunately we are currently not open to applications for thesis projects.