Research Highlights

Slouching into symbiosis

Most plants and animals depend on microbial symbionts to perform essential functions, but those intimate partnerships are not necessarily matches made in heaven. New research from the McCutcheon Lab (CMMB and OBE) reveals that the obligate relationship between periodical cicadas and their two bacterial symbionts has become more complex due to non-adaptive gene loss by the microbes rather than to natural selection on either partner.

John McCutcheon

research article co-first-authored by DBS graduate students Matt Campbell (OBE) and J.T. Van Leuven (CMMB), plus an overview of the Sackler Symposium on symbiosis from Dr. McCutcheon, appeared in PNAS in August.  Read more about McCutcheon Lab symbiosis research in this National Geographic piece.

Upstroke, upstroke, and away.  

Slow flight is inefficient, but inevitable during take-off and landing. How (and even whether) birds make the most of their wingbeats during important stage of flight has long been in question.  A new study by OBE grad student Kristin Crandell and advisor Bret Tobalske of the UM Flight Lab used high-tech visualization of air flow around wings to show that some slow-flight upstrokes generate important force.

JexpBio_Crandellcoverflight imagingKris crandell

The research article was featured on the cover of the August 2015 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.