Nancy A. Moran

The University of Texas at Austin


Election Year: 2004
Primary Section: 27, Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My long-term interests are in the evolution of biological complexity, such as that apparent in complex life histories, in intimate interactions among species and in species-diversity of clades and communities. My focus is on symbiosis, particularly that between multicellular hosts and microbes. Symbioses are central in the evolution of complexity; have evolved many times and are critical to the lifestyles of many animals and plants and also to whole ecosystems, in which symbiotic organisms are key players. The primary reason that symbiosis research is suddenly active, after decades at the margins of mainstream biology, is that DNA technology and genomics give us enormous new ability to discover symbiont diversity, and more significantly, to reveal how microbial metabolic capabilities contribute to the functioning of hosts and biological communities. My ongoing projects, mostly collaborations with students and postdoctoral associates, include phylogenetic and genomic studies of previously unstudied insect symbioses, experiments on gene expression of symbionts within hosts, computational reconstruction of the content and arrangement of genes in bacterial ancestors, and experimental investigations of facultative symbioses that are heritable but more labile within host lineages.

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