*A former UA postdoctoral fellow has discovered amazing relationships between organisms: a bacterium living inside a bacterium living inside an insect. Evolving together, the organisms depend on each other for survival, and each contributes a subset of the enzymes needed in shared metabolic pathways.*
Sure, many bacteria cause disease, but most people don’t realize how beneficial they can be. The human gut, for example, brims with bacteria that play critical roles in everything from immune system development and extracting energy from food to providing necessary nutrients.
They get a nice comfy home living inside people, and in return they help us. It’s a symbiotic relationship. However, these beneficial partnerships are nothing compared to the complex relationships between bacteria and citrus mealybugs recently discovered by a team of biologists led by former UA researcher John McCutcheon, who recently took a position as an assistant professor at the University of Montana. (more…)