Kenneth Trang Rose Hills
Characterization of the C. elegans Dauer Microbiome
Bacteria inhabit nearly every surface on Earth, from tabletops to hydrothermal vents. Thus, it is unsurprising that a diverse community of microbes, or microbiome, also inhabits the human gut. However, these residents arent simple stowaways, as gut bacteria actively modulate host development and physiology. Therefore, as different species of bacteria modulate host physiology differently, understanding the factors that determine which bacteria can and cannot colonize the gut is of increasing importance. Host genetics, diet, and geography were all shown to play important roles in determining microbiome composition. The goal of the proposed project is to examine the role of parental transmission to progeny, which, beyond its functional consequences, may have further implications for understanding the evolution of host-microbiome interactions. Last year, I characterized the ecological succession of Caenorhabditis elegans gut microbiome during larval development as part of my honors thesis project. This summer, I will explore the dauer larval stage as potential vehicles to transfer gut bacteria between parents and offspring. In addition to improving our understanding of the C. elegans natural lifestyle by investigating the role of the parental microbiome on the composition of the microbiome of the offspring, this project aims to deepen our understanding of the fundamental rules governing the assembly of the gut microbiome composition.