PhD., University of Toronto, 2000
Postdoctoral Research: University of Texas at Austin
Address: 4305 Microbial Sciences Building
Research InterestsEcological and evolutionary genomics of symbiotic systems
Research FieldsEvolutionary & Population Genetics
Genomics & Proteomics
research focuses on the evolution of symbiotic associations between
animals and microbes. We utilize a cross-disciplinary approach
incorporating genetic, behavioral, and microbiological approaches. Work
in the lab takes advantage of genomic, molecular and phylogenetic
techniques to examine how microbes shape the biology of higher
Our main study system is the association between fungus-growing ants, their fungal cultivars, mutualistic bacteria, and specialized garden pathogens. We are currently sequencing the genomes of players in this system to address questions concerning the evolution of antibiotic resistance, cooperation, and social insect castes. The lab also investigates the evolution of symbiosis in additional systems including a bark beetles, honey bees, and fungus-growing termites.
The Currie lab is also involved in bioprospecting to discover new species and enzymes that will improve biofuel production. We do this by applying metagenomics, bioinformatics, microbiological techniques and metabolic assays to environmental samples, including the ants' fungal-gardens and dumps.
Students and postdocs in the Currie lab focus on a variety of projects including microbial ecology & biogeography, population genetics & geographic mosaic theory of coevolution, bioinformatics, the evolution of antibiotic resistance and the genetic basis of symbiosis.
M., Fenrez-Marin, H., Wcislo, W.T., Currie, C.R. and Boomsma, J.J.
2009. Ephemeral windows of opportunity maintain horizontal transmission
of fungal symbionts in leaf-cutting ants. Evolution.
Oh, D.-C., Poulsen, M., Currie, C.R. and Clardy, J. 2009. Dentigerumycin, the bacterially produced molecular mediator of a fungus-growing ant symbiosis. Nature Chem. Biol.
Caldera, E.J., Poulsen, M., Suen, G. and Currie, C.R. 2009. Insect Symbioses — A Case Study of Past, Present, and Future Fungus-Growing Ant Research. Environmental Entomology 38: 78-92.
Scott, J. J., Oh, D.-C., Yuceer, M. C., Klepzig, K. D., Clardy, J. and Currie, C. R. 2008. Bacterial protection of beetle-fungus mutualism. Science 322: 63.
Little, A.E.F. and C.R. Currie. 2008. Black yeast symbionts compromise the efficiency of antibiotic defenses in fungus-growing ants. Ecology 89:1216-1222.