Lucia Pita Galan and Ute Hentschel Humeida
Exploring innate immunity as the ancient mechanism for host-microbe interactions
Innate immunity in sponges was studied long ago by Nobel Laureate Metchnikoff and others to understand self- non-self recognition in early-diverging organisms and to develop phagocytic theory. Yet, even after 100 years, the molecular mechanisms of sponge immunity remain understudied. This PhD research project will elucidate the mechanisms of homeostasis in marine animal-microbe symbiosis with a focus on marine sponges (Porifera). We hypothesize that the sponge’s immune system is responsible for orchestrating host-microbe under conditions of symbiosis but also dysbiosis. This project will further focus on in the regulatory role of immunity under conditions of environmental stress. The PhD candidate will combine experimental field work in Barcelona, Spain, with high throughput sequencing techniques (in particular RNAseq) and immunohistochemistry. The expected results will be placed in an evolutionary perspective by comparing gene expression patterns and profiles to those of other basal metazoan phyla.