The genomics of a beetle-­fungal symbiosis with massive implications for forest disturbance ecology and climate

2012 to 2017

Our project, Genomics of a Beetle-fungal symbiosis with massive implications for forest Disturbance Ecology, aims to understand the obligate relationship between bark and ambrosia beetles and their symbiotic fungi. Because these beetles are the largest and most impactful engineers of forest ecosystems, understanding their symbiosis with fungi is key to understanding forest health. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the basic biology of this beetle-fungal symbiosis, and this problem is fundamental: the beetle cannot survive in the absence of its fungal partners. Our project brings together three key Montana personnel (PI McCutcheon, co-PI Six, and IoE and NSF GRFP and GROW fellow Vanderpool) at different career stages, with different backgrounds and areas of expertise, to study this fundamentally important symbiosis. Our project seeks to uncover the as-of-yet unresolved phylogenetic relationship of bark and ambrosia beetle-associated fungi, and use this framework to address questions that link patterns of fungal genome evolution with large-scale beetle ecology. 

IoE Graduate Student(s): 


MSU IoE Office

Montana State University
605 Leon Johnson Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-2374
MSU Director: Bruce Maxwell

UM IoE Office

The Universityi of Montana

The University of Montana
Davidson Honors College
Missoula, MT 59812
(406) 243-6058
UM Director: Maury Valett


Montana University System

Montana University System

Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620