What we do
Our research focuses on the evolutionary ecology of fast-evolving viral parasites of pollinating insects such as bumblebees and hoverflies. With this natural system, we are asking fundamental questions such as identifying ecological and genetic risk factors that promote the emergence of novel diseases. As healthy pollinators are crucial for all flowering plants, our research is also motivated by the potential to improve conservation biology and agriculture.
Host-parasite coevolution is at the center of our research interests. In particular, we are interested in the ecology and evolution of emerging diseases. Using rapidly evolving RNA viruses that infect the community of pollinating insects, we study the ecological and genetic risk factors that may lead to disease emergence in this system. Our work focuses on viral sequence evolution and the dynamics of pathogen adaptation.
Bombus terrestris worker
Dom Cram 2015
Phylogenetic reconstruction of three fragments of DWV, showing host and geographic structure.