Symbiotic interactions between organisms enable the exploitation of new ecological niches and can promote diversification. Prominent examples of symbiotic interactions include organelles in eukaryotes and intracellular bacteria that persist in an obligate co-evolutionary relationship with specific host lineages. Our research group combines field and experimental approaches, molecular genomic techniques, and bioinformatic tools to understand how co-evolutionary interactions between host and intracellular symbiont drive genomic and functional evolution, and how this contributes to generating and maintaining diversity across biological scales. To investigate this, we are studying cixiid planthoppers and the obligate microbial endosymbionts provisioning them with essential nutrients missing in plant-sap and how this nutritional symbiosis supports the diverse subterranean community of cave-adapted arthropods endemic to Hawaiian lava tubes.
The Chong Lab is in the School of Life Sciences (formerly Departments of Biology, Botany, and Microbiology) at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Learn more about our research or contact us.