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Nicole GerardoProfessor

The Gerardo Lab

Lab Location:  Rollins 1174
Lab Phone:       404-727-0394

 

Education

  • B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, Houston, Texas, 1997
  • Ph.D. in Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, 2004

Research Area

  • Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Biology
  • Population Biology, Evolution, and Ecology

Graduate Program Affiliation

  • Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution

Research Description

Most organisms are host to microbes. Some of these microbes are pathogenic, leading to disease, while others are beneficial, helping their hosts acquire nutrients and defend themselves. We are broadly interested in how hosts and beneficial microbes establish and maintain relationships and how they collaborate to defend against pathogens and parasites. To address these topics, we utilize the versatility of insect-microbe systems in which both the host insects and their associated microbes can be maintained in the laboratory.

Our focal systems currently include the interaction between aphids, beneficial bacteria and a range of aphid pathogens, including bacteria and fungi. We also work with several true bugs systems with diverse associations with beneficial symbionts, and with fungus-growing ants and their associated fungal pathogens.

Research Lab Description

Our lab is interested in how host and microbial traits shape the evolution of both beneficial and harmful associations. We are particularly interested in how host immune responses differ upon introduction of beneficial versus harmful microbes, and how the presence of protective microbes alters host investment in immunity. We utilize insect microbe associations amenable to experimental manipulation.

Publications