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Multidrug resistance and the evolutionary ecology of insect immunity

Objective

I will investigate the hypothesis that antimicrobial peptides in insects deal with persistent infections and/or prevent the evolution of resistant bacterial mutants. This will be achieved by looking at two hitherto unrelated areas within a single conceptual and experimental framework: (a) how to prevent the evolution of bacterial resistance against antimicrobials? (b) Why is it adaptive for insects to exhibit long lasting costly immune responses?
This research takes a novel approach to understand the evolution of drug resistance in pathogens, one of the most important applied evolutionary questions of our times. Insects produce potent antimicrobials that are considered as future novel antibiotic drugs and provide insight into a multidrug treatment shaped by natural selection. Elucidating the evolution of integrated immune responses will greatly enhance the understanding of immunity in insects, the most speciose metazoan taxon of great importance to human health (vectors) and nutrition (pollinators).
I will use the beetle Tenebrio molitor to examine the temporal dynamics of an antibacterial response using proteomics. I will build on this using two series of experiments manipulating the antimicrobial response in-vivo, using RNAi gene knockdowns, and in in-vitro, using synthesised Tenebrio antimicrobials will be carried out. These experiments will investigate the response of the model pathogen Staphyloccocus aureus to the changes in the beetle s multidrug response. S. aureus resistance to these experimental selection arenas will be studied at the phenotypic and genomic level.
The results from this research program will (a) inform antibiotic strategies in medical and veterinary science and (b) will change the way we understand the evolution of (insect) immunity

Call for proposal

ERC-2010-StG_20091118
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Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

FREIE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN
Address
Kaiserswerther Strasse 16-18
14195 Berlin
Germany
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 931 014
Principal investigator
Jens Olaf Rolff (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Michael Hune (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (2)

FREIE UNIVERSITAET BERLIN
Germany
EU contribution
€ 931 014
Address
Kaiserswerther Strasse 16-18
14195 Berlin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Jens Olaf Rolff (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Michael Hune (Mr.)
THE UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD

Participation ended

United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 361 488
Address
Firth Court Western Bank
S10 2TN Sheffield
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Joanne Watson (Ms.)