Fungi of the genus Termitomyces (Basidiomycota) are cultivated by termite species of the subfamily Macrotermitinae (Isoptera). The fungus provides food for the termites and helps them degrade plant material. Not much is known about the origin of the symbiosis and the evolutionary history of Termitomyces. By studying the biology, ecology and phylogeny of fungi related to Termitomyces, but not associated with termites, I hope to reconstruct how the symbiosis could arise and whether the ancestor of Termitomyces had pre-adaptations to be domesticated by termites. Preliminary results indicate that the sister group of Termitomyces also has an association insect, but in a loose sense.
To reconstruct the evolutionary history of the symbiosis between fungus and termite.
Reconstructing phylogenies based on mitochondrial genomes and nuclear sequences. Gain knowledge of the ecology of non-termite associated fungi related to Termitomyces.
Helas, this project is not open to thesis projects.