My PhD project focuses on bacteria and bacteriophages that inhabit ants and their nests.
Ants are thought to have evolved to cope with a high threat of disease by microorganisms, and bacteriophage - viruses that kill bacteria - might be important in this. With the rise of antibiotic resistance, bacteriophage are increasingly being considered as potential alternatives to antibiotics.
I study the microbial ecology of these ant-phage-bacteria communities by studying their entire genetic content, or metagenome. I hope to find out whether bacteriophage are important in shaping the communities of bacteria that live with ants.