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The gut microbiome is central to animal health and immune function, however we have an incomplete understanding of how this important symbiotic ecosystem evolved. By approaching this knowledge gap from a historical perspective and using real-time observation, this project will address how the gut community evolved with the rodent host and how members of that community respond to new selective pressures. The significance of these findings is in their capacity to inform our understanding of the relationship between host and microbe, not only within a key model system, but by extrapolation to other host-microbe systems.
Our aims in this project are to:
1. Catalogue and characterise the functional potential of rodent gut-associated bacteria via genome recovery from metagenomic datasets
2. Identify signals of evolutionary adaptation of bacteria to the rodent gut environment via comparative genomics across related hosts occupying different environmental niches
3. Test the adaptive capacity of bacteria within the mouse gut in real-time using modern stressors as selective pressures