PhD Candidate, Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester
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.
Have you have seen ants this year? In Britain, they were probably black garden ants, known as Lasius niger Europes most common ant. One of somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 species, they are the scourge of gardeners ...