Evolution of the marsupial gut microbiome and adaptation to eucalypt toxins (2015–2017)

Eucalyptus leaves comprise all or part of the diet of some masurpials including koalas. Gut microbiota assist in the ability of these folivores to tolerate eucalyptus toxins although present understanding is rudimentary. This project will use culture-independent molecular methods to identify and characterise gut populations involved in phytochemical detoxification by comparative analysis with diprotodont relatives that are not capable of digesting eucalyptus leaves. This will highlight evolutionary convergence of gut microbiomes in toxic folivores and reveal mechanisms by which microorganisms respond to and metabolise eucalypt toxins. A broader evolutionary context of marsupial digestive function will assist in ongoing conservation efforts.
Grant type:
ARC Discovery Projects
  • ARC Australian Laureate Fellow
    School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
    Faculty of Science
  • Chair & Group Leader Metagenomics
    The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute
    Faculty of Medicine
    Affiliated Professor
    School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
    Faculty of Science
Funded by:
Australian Research Council