Wood-feeding insects are sometimes known to use microbial symbionts present in their guts to help in digestion and nutrient mobilization. However, nothing is known about how such insects cope with wood and resin. The large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, is a serious pest on the bark of young conifer trees in northern Europe that must deal with both wood fiber and terpene-containing resin as major parts of its diet. This project will explore the metabolic fate of resin terpenes in these insects and the role of gut bacteria in processing terpenes and wood at the molecular, protein and metabolite levels. The project combines entomological, microbiological, chemical and molecular biology methods to better understand the lifestyle of one fascinating, long-lived species of insect. Collaboration between Research Group on Insect Symbiosis (Dr. Martin Kaltenpoth) and Department of Biochemistry (Dr. Axel Schmidt).
The project will be part of the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) “The Exploration of Ecological Interactions with Molecular and Chemical Techniques” in Jena, Germany. Students holding a Master`s degree (or equivalent) in molecular biology, ecology, entomology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry and neuroethology, with a proven record of success in one of the disciplines and interest in examining ecological interactions, are eligible to conduct a doctoral project within the IMPRS.
The Research School is a joint initiative of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology, and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research. The main focus is on the interaction between plants and animals, and their environment, as well as the evolutionary and behavioral consequences of these interactions.
Application deadline is June 26, 2011
For detailed information about the IMPRS, PhD topics offered and application requirements, please Visit Official Website.