Cameron Currie

Position title: Professor


Phone: 608-265-8034

Ecological and evolutionary genomics of symbiotic systems

4305 Microbial Sciences Building
PhD., University of Toronto (2000), Postdoctoral Research: University of Texas at Austin
Research Interests
Ecological and evolutionary genomics of symbiotic systems
Research Fields
Evolutionary & Population Genetics, Genomics & Proteomics, Bacteria, Fungi

Research Description:
Our 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 organisms.

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.

Representative Publications:
Search PubMed for more publications by Cameron Currie

Poulsen, 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.