GenoSpec” aims at understanding the genomic processes underlying host adaptations of the ants-specific fungi from the species complex Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato by using a population genomics approach. This knowledge will contribute to the understanding of adaptive evolution, which is a major topic in evolutionary biology, and has potential applications in the development of fungal biological control agents against insect pests. Strains of O. unilateralis specific to three different ant species will be isolated from Thailand and their genomes will be sequenced, to identify the genomic changes involved in adaptation, e.g. the genes with signatures of positive selection or specific to particular hosts. Various sampling sites will allow inferences on the recent demographic history that could blur the footprint of positive selection. Dr. Noppol Kobmoo will bring his knowledge and skill on these particular fungi to enrich the expertise and the panel of biological models of the host institution (ESE laboratory, Université Paris-Sud, FRANCE) while gaining new expertise on population genetics at a genomic level. This project will start a fruitful collaboration between the host institution and BIOTEC (THAILAND) where the Fellow will return permanently after the project.
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