PhD defence by Anna Slowik

Ecological consideration​​​s of thermal and nutritional interactions in​ Metarhizium host range evolution: A multidimensional analysis of niche width in insect-pathogenic fungi

Host-pathogen interactions are fundamental to the ecological and evolutionary processes in ecosystems, influencing community dynamics, species distribution, and the evolutionary trajectories of both hosts and pathogens. Such interactions are often dictated by coevolutionary forces that drive pathogens to exhibit specialized hostspecific adaptations or generalist strategies encompassing multiple hosts. 

Entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) serve as key models for studying these interactions, exemplifying different degrees of niche specialization - the extent to which an organism is adapted to specific ecological parameters su​​​​​​ch as host or environmental conditions - in their ecological functionality. This thesis integrates thermal and nutritional ecology to provide a multidimensional analysis of the environmental niche breadth and host range in Metarhizium species, employing experimental and quantitative methods to deepen insights into the ecological dynamics of EPF​. 


Associate Professor Henrik de Fine Licht

Principal investigator, dr. Steven Sait, Insect Ecology and Evolution, University of Leeds, UK

Pathogen Ecologist, dr. Helen Hesketh, UK centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Environment Centre Wales

​Assessment committee 

Professor Alison M. Dunn, School of Biology, University of Leeds, UK

Associate Professor Mette Lübeck, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, University of Aalborg, DK

There will be a reception following the PhD defence