Silvia Caballero Ortiz

Insect-Fungus Interactions
I studied Agricultural Engineer at the Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain. During that time I was enroll in an exchange program to conduct parts of my studies at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen, Hesse. Soon afterwards, I made my diploma thesis focused in Programmed Cell Death (Apoptosis) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae at IBMCP institute (Molecular and Cellular Institute of Plants) and immediately after my diploma thesis I started to work as a research assistant in the microbiology department of the University of Gießen.
In September 2010 I started my PhD under the supervision of Marko Rohlfs. The focus of the project is on fungal gene expression in response to fungivores. The selected organisms are Aspergillus nidulans and Folsomia candida. Aspergillus nidulans is a filamentous fungus that produces numerous secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites are biologically active compounds that are diverse in structure and often have toxic properties. These molecules are not essential for normal growth of an organism but play important roles, for example by functioning as defense compounds or signaling molecules. Folsomia candida, a springtail or collembolan, is representative of generalist soil fungivores. Our hypothesis is that the regulatory machinery of Aspergillus nidulans secondary metabolite production represents a flexible means that allows adaptive chemical defense against predation.
We use a combination of experimental ecology and gene expression profiling techniques to investigate induced responses in fungi to predation under varying ecological conditions.