Project Group Entomogenous Microbiology, Dr. Liyan Ping

Research Topics

Spodoptera littoralis

Lepidopteran gut flora

The relationship of gut biota with their insect host is an emerging research field. Our lab has the experience on isolating gut microbes from herbivorous insects, e.g. Spodoptera species, and we are interested in their role in insect-plant interaction. Currently, we are monitoring the population dynamics of gut biota under different growth and nutrient conditions using metagenomics approaches and microarray. The final goal of this project is to reveal the mechanism underlying the interaction between microbes and their host.

Collaborator
Dr. Heiko Vogel

© Prof. Adler
Simulium paraguayense

Simuliidae associated microorganism

Black flies can be found every where in Europe, and also in large areas of America, Africa, and Asia. They may be a nuisance to people who love outdoor activities due to the painful lesions produced by their biting. Some members of the family spread diseases, such as river blindness in Africa (Onchocerciasis). They are also responsible for some of the transmissible diseases of livestock. There were intense studies on their taxonomy and disease vector control, but little is known about the microbes associated with these insects.

Collaborator
Prof. Peter H. Adler

© Prof. Yao
Cordyceps sinensis

Pathogenesis of Cordyceps sp.

Cordyceps is a group of entomopathogenic fungi. One of the best known species is Cordyceps sinensis which form the vegetable caterpillar (Chinese name: Dong Chong Xia Cao, which means “caterpillar-in-winter, herb-in-summer”), a precious ingredient in Chinese traditional medicines. Up to date, the infection process of these fungi is not very well understood . The hypothesis that spores adhered to the larval skin when they were on the ground and geminated in soil to establish infection is well accepted, but there needs experimental evidence.

Collaborator
Prof. Yi-Jian Yao

Melolontha hippocastani

Cockchafer aerobic microbiota

The cockchafer is well known for its capability of digesting wood and fiber-rich material through microbe-aid anaerobic fermentation, but the function of the aerobic inhabitant in the gut is not well understood. Here culture-dependent and independent species characterization is combined with light and electron microscopy to study the distribution of aerobic microbiota. Molecular biology and biochemistry technology will be applied to address the chemical communication between bacteria and the host insect, as well as between aerobic and anaerobic gut inhabitants. We current focus on two species: the forest cockchafer (Melolontha hippocastani) and common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha).

Collaborators
Dr. Andreas Reinecke
Dr. Horst Delb and Dr. Eiko Wagenhoff

Bacillus sp. in gut

Gut flora and insect speciation

An interesting phenomenon about the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda is that they have evolved into two distinct strains, besides other more intrinsic hormonal difference, one preferentially feed on corn, while the other on rice. Because gut microbiota plays an important role on shaping host physiology, esp. nutritional ecology, it would be interesting to see whether the gut microflora of the two strains is different and whether the different microbial composition (if there is) account for the hormonal and behavioral difference. A combination of conventional colony sequencing and next generation sequencing will be applied.

Collaborator
Dr. Astrid T. Groot