PhD Candidate in Comparative Biology
American Museum of Natural History
Microbiome Contribution to Nutrition in Frugivorous Bats
Bats of the family Phyllostomidae have evolved to specialize on fruits, nectar, blood, and small vertebrates. Frugivores subsist on a diet composed mainly of sugar, so how do they meet their protein and fat requirements? We are examining the gut micro biome of frugivorous bats to identify bacterial functions that may contribute to nutrition in this ecologically specialized group.
Microbiome Relationship to Helminthic Parasite Load
Bats are colonized by a variety of helminth worms. Worms in the gut coexist with the resident microflora. We are using neural net algorithms to predict helminth parasitism using host phylogeny, host traits, and microbiome community structure, with the expectation that the microbiome will be a significant predictor of helminth load.
Field Sampling Methods in Microbiome Research
Differences in laboratory protocols used to study microbiomes reduce reproducibility among studies, but few studies address how sample collection methods impact microbiome inference. We compared fecal and intestinal samples across 17 species of bats and found that these samples are distinct, and record different signals of host evolution & ecology.
Biochemical Defenses of Bats Against White Nose Syndrome
White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a cutaneous fungal infection that has killed over 6 million North American bats, but some bats are resistant. We investigated whether biochemical properties of the skin contribute to resistance, and discovered that certain classes of skin lipids inhibit the growth of the infectious fungal agent.
A Little About Me
I am a Comparative Biology Ph.D. candidate at the American Museum of Natural History. As a museum-trained scientist, my work brings together innovative molecular and morphological techniques to answer questions about digestive adaptations in Neotropical bats. How do bat microbiomes contribute to host nutrition? What role does the microbiome play in managing gastric parasitism? What can the microbiome tell us about the evolutionary history and ecology of bats? I invite you to ponder these questions as you explore my page. Cheers!
Thanks for your interest in my research. Get in touch with any questions or comments regarding my work and publications. I’d love to hear from you.