My research theme is endosymbiosis – more specifically, I want to understand the RNA and protein factors that influence the fate of an endosymbiotic interaction. I work with the single-celled endosymbiotic ciliate, Paramecium bursaria, and use a combination of functional genomics, RNA-interference mediated gene knock-down, RNA sequencing, and proteomics to answer these questions. At present, I am developing a protocol of high-throughput RNAi knock-down that will allow us to identify the host genes that maintain the interaction between P. bursaria and its algal endosymbiont. In addition, I am investigating how RNA-interactions can promote stability of the P. bursaria-algal system, by facilitating a cost to host fitness for endosymbiont digestion. Such a cost would effectively sanction misbehaviour, and thus encourage cooperation.
European Research Council