Projects & Grants

Unraveling the relationship between ambrosia gall midges and their symbionts: neglected model of fungus farming evolution
Project Id23-07026S
Main solverdoc. Mgr. Pavel Drozd, Ph.D.
Period1/2023 - 12/2025
ProviderStandardní projekt GA ČR
AnotationCecidomyiidae are among the most diversified insect groups. Majority of taxa are host-specific, galling various plant parts. Within this group, ambrosia gall midges harbor fungi in their galls. However, unlike in other fungus-farming insects, their ecology is poorly known. Their peculiar feeding mode combining mycophagy and herbivory provides a unique evolutionary model for studying speciation and host plant specialization. To describe the interaction between ambrosia gall midges and fungal symbionts, we will use a combination of extensive sampling and laboratory experiments using modern biochemical and molecular methods (NGS). Comprehensive data will reveal the specificity of interaction and coevolution of fungal symbionts, plants, parasitoids, and gall midge endosymbionts. Knowledge of the biology and metabolism of fungal and bacterial symbionts will help to understand the nature of interactions between plants and insects, and of interactions among microbial groups, and may provide information on novel biotechnologically important metabolites (e.g., antibiotic drugs).