Group 1 biodiversity and Interactions between Micro-organisms / Insects / Plants


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Research topics

The themes of the IMIP team are strongly anchored on the understanding of the functioning and evolution of multi-trophic interactions in which insects engage, whether with viruses or bacteria, plants or other insects. The aim is to study interactions at the level of molecular mediators, genomes, populations and species.

To meet this general objective, research within the IMIP team is divided into three main research themes:

  1. Molecular physiology of host handling by parasitic insects
  2. Evolution of viruses and hymenoptera genomes
  3. Biodiversity and evolutionary ecology of insects and associated microorganisms.

With complementary skills in evolutionary and molecular biology, genomics, virology, physiology, molecular ecology and bioinformatics, the IMIP team integrates different levels of complexity in the approaches used. These include :

  • Genomics and metagenomics
  • Environmental genomics and DNA metabarcoding
  • Transcriptomics and proteomics
  • Invalidation of candidate genes (RNAi, CRISPR-Cas9)
  • Molecular systematics
  • Existing data mining
  • Pathology and Epidemiology
  • Community ecology

Theme 1: Molecular Physiology of Host Handling by parasitic insects

This first theme aims to characterize the origin, nature and function of molecular effectors produced by endoparasitic insects developing within a host plant or insect. Parasitic insects (leaf miners, gallagens, parasitoids) cause changes in the development, immunity and metabolism of their hosts. This involves the establishment of a molecular dialogue, with the production by insect parasites of molecular effectors that impact host physiology. This theme capitalizes on the synergy between the functional and evolutionary ecology skills of the IMIP team. It also relies on the deployment of integrative analyses based on independently acquired results at the physiological and genomic levels. It is divided into 3 complementary axes, the originality of which is based on the identification of similarities in parasite strategies in different models. These 3 axes provide fundamental elements for the reasoned control of insect pests.

Axis 1: The identification, origin and molecular evolution of the effectors of parasitism.
 Research on effectors produced by insect and plant parasites using genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches.

Axis 2: Identification of the mechanisms of production and regulation of viral particles associated with parasitoid wasps.
Research of genes involved in the amplification of bracovirus and its entry into host cells by transcriptomic approaches and invalidation of candidate genes (RNAi).

Axis 3: Functional characterization of effectors and adaptive constraints on microorganism-insect-plant interactions.
Functional analyses of candidate effectors, impact on the host (insect or plant) using gain and loss of function approaches (RNAi, CRISPR-Cas9).

Theme 2: Evolution of viruses and hymenoptera genomes

Theme 2 focuses on the evolution of viruses and hymenoptera genomes, including the assessment of risks related to gene transfer in ecosystems. This research will notably lay the foundations for discussions on the possible in natura use of genetically modified organisms. The development of new vectors potentially usable in the medical field could also have an impact in biotechnology. This theme 2 is based on approaches at the interface of functional ecology and evolutionary biology.

This theme is divided into 3 axes:

Axis 1: Characterization of the biology of new free and symbiotic viruses.
Through database monitoring approaches, de novo genomics on targeted models.

Axis 2: Identification of the role of free and symbiotic viruses in horizontal gene transfers by high-throughput genomics, bioinformatics and experimental confirmation of transfers.

Focus 3: Study the impact of adaptation to parasitic lifestyle at the level of the hymenoptera genome using comparative genomics, population genomics and functional validation approaches.

Theme 3: Systematics and Molecular Ecology of Insects and Associated Microbes

The impact of global changes on biodiversity is difficult to measure because many taxonomic groups remain relatively unknown and are therefore not integrated into food webs despite their likely importance to ecosystem functioning. Theme 3 capitalizes on the formation of the IMIP team and on our knowledge in molecular systematics and environmental genomics to develop innovative approaches to characterize biodiversity and study its adaptation to global changes. The issues addressed include the resolution of societal issues, particularly with regard to sustainable agriculture and biomonitoring of biodiversity. This theme is divided into 3 areas:

Axis 1: Molecular systematics of entomofauna and study of insect biodiversity and evolution using phylogenetic and DNA barcode approaches.

Axis 2: Dynamics of trophic networks (auxiliary insects and pests) in anthropized ecosystems using environmental DNA metabarcoding approaches.

Area 3: Characterization of viral and bacterial biodiversity in insect communities and their role in ecosystems using metagenomics, metabarcoding, pathology and epidemiology approaches.