I am interested in virtually all insects and their interspecific interactions with a particular focus on the evolutionary selective pressures that shaped their life-history and/or interaction. Parasitoids are an excellent model system for studying interspecific interactions due to the massive number of species and the close co-evolutionary history with their hosts. These interactions can lead to the loss of traits in a species when one partner compensates the needs of the other ecological partner. This concept on compensated trait loss attained increased intention over the last years, but the molecular mechanisms underlying these phenomena are hitherto unknown. In my PhD I aim to elucidate these mechanisms and thereby find causal factors driving the evolutionary loss of traits. Many independent lineages of parasitoids have lost their ability to convert and store dietary sugar in the form lipids as adults, therefore depending entirely on the fat supplies of their larval hosts. Potential mechanisms which would explain this case of trait loss include gene degradation and gene regulatory changes. I am investigating these mechanisms using a healthy mix of wet-lab molecular analyses, bio-informatics and experiments with live insects.
Harvey JA, Fei M, Lammers M, Kos M, Zhu F, Heinen R, Poelman EH, Gols R (2016) Development of a solitary koinobiont hyperparasitoid in different instars of its primary and secondary hosts. Journal of Insect Physiology 90: 36-42.
Zhu F, Lammers M, Harvey JA, Poelman EH (2016) Intrinsic competition between primary hyperparasitoids of the solitary endoparasitoid Cotesia rubecula. Ecological Entomology 41: 292-300.
Kostenko O, Lammers M, Grootemaat S, Kroon T, Harvey JA, van Geem M, Bezemer TM (2015) Effects of plant diversity on parasitoid behaviour in a field experiment. Ecological Entomology 40: 748-758.