physical: Building 16.10 // The Station Crescent // Oteha Rohe
tel: +64 9 4140800 ext 43811 // email: cchawla(at)massey.ac.nz
I had my B.tech in Biotechnology from Jaipur National University, India. In my fourth year of B.tech I did a research project where I tried to understand the evolutionary causes of cooperation in Dictyostelium spp. (social amoebae). From thereon, I became more interested in evolution of social behaviour in general and therefore took a one year research project examining the evolution of schooling behaviour in fishes from a phylogenetic perspective. Both of these projects were done in IISc, Bangalore (India).
Understanding germ-soma interactions using P. fluorescens as a model system
Germ-soma differentiation is seen as a strategy for coping cell level conflict and as a mechanism for the maintenance of cooperation through generations. Experiments using P. fluorescens model system have indicated towards the emergence of a proto life cycle as a means of collective level reproduction. In this experiment ancestral P. fluorescens lines were forced to cycle between alternative wrinkly type mat (soma) and smooth type (germ). Observations from this experiment suggest to have increased group fitness in derived lines with a simultaneous decrease in cell fitness, compared to ancestral lines.
My study aims to find reasons for the differences that occur in the derived lines by focussing on the interactions between two-cell types -wrinkly and smooth type that could have possibly changed. One expectation is that the derived lines have evolved a better capacity to harbour more smooth type (germ cells) compared to ancestral line which are known to show no such facilitation to smooth cell type, in fact there is a threshold to the number of smooth type a wrinkly mat can harbour.
This study will help us to understand early steps that could have occurred at the cell level in shaping group level adaptations, thus try to address a possibility of a causal connection between the two, if there exists any.