Author: Kat Milligan-Myhre

May 2016: Funding and summer plans

We are excited to have been chosen as mentors for the American Fisheries Society’s Hutton Program. An Anchorage high school student will be working with us this summer on metagenomic data analysis.

Masters student Ryan Lucas has received an Alaska INBRE graduate student fellowship to study the effects of clinical levels of antibiotics on microbial community composition and immune response in stickleback. Ryan started working in the lab mid-May, and is hard at work developing new assays for the lab.

Postdoc Emily Lescak has received an NSF Broadening Participation postdoctoral fellowship to study the effects of environmentally-relevant levels of antibiotics on microbial community composition and development in stickleback.

Lab Members on the Road!

Kat gave a talk to the University of Alaska Biomedical Research Conference (UABRC) in Fairbanks Alaska in May 2016, and will be giving a talk at the Evolution Meeting in Austin Texas in June.

Emily will be attending ECOGEO‘s Training Workshop for early career researchers in ‘omics in Honolulu in July. This two day workshop will help Emily apply bioinformatic methods and tools to environmental ‘omics data experimental design and processing.

High school volunteer Foster was accepted into the Research Institute at MIT this summer. Foster will work on biostats heavy projects with MIT researchers for several weeks.

Stickleback as a model to study host-microbe interactions

Gut doodle 2015

Welcome to our lab!  Our lab is interested how the genetic background of the host influences the relationship between microbes and the hosts with which they interact.

We adapted the heterogenetic threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) fish for host-microbe studies. Threespine stickleback exhibit genetic variability both within and between populations that inhabit diverse environments, making them appropriate model organisms for studying how environment and genetic variation shape host-microbe interactions. This species is a well-established model for understanding evolution, ecosystem dynamics, development, and the impact of environmental contaminants on physiology.   

We developed a gnotobiotic stickleback model to manipulate the microbial environment in which the fish develop, and discovered that the genetic background of the host contributes to the intensity of the innate immune response to microbiota. Our lab now focuses on determining the mechanisms underling these differences, and identifying other phenotypes that are influenced by gene by environment interactions.