Bioluminescence as a regulator of multitrophic interactions belowground

Molecular and Chemical Ecology

The Experimental Biology Research Group is devoted to understanding the genes and metabolites that regulate ecological interactions. Our experimental system includes plants, herbivore insects, and herbivore natural enemies such as predators and entomopathogenic nematodes. Our research has lately focused on Photorhabdus bacteria, the symbionts of Heterorhabditis entomopathogenic nematodes. In particular, we have investigated their phylogenetic relationships, implemented methods to identify them rapidly, and improved their biological control potential.

More recently, we have started to unravel the adaptive value of one of its most prominent traits: Bioluminescence. Photorhabdus bacteria produce light when they multiply inside their host insects. Therefore, the organisms that are infected by Photorhabdus bacteria are bioluminescent. What are the benefits that could explain the occurrence and prevalence of this trait? This is one of the questions that we are currently tackling by studying the regulatory potential of Photorhabdus bioluminescence in belowground multi-trophic interactions.

Recent publications

  • Identification of Photorhabdus symbionts by MALDI-TOF MS
    Hill, Virginia; Kuhnert, Peter; Erb, Matthias; Machado, Ricardo A. R.
    Microbiology-sgm 166(6): 522-530 DOI: 10.1099/mic.0.000905  JUN 2020
  • Entomopathogenic nematodes from Mexico that can overcome the resistance mechanisms of the western corn rootworm
    Bruno, Pamela; Machado, Ricardo A. R.; Glauser, Gaetan; Kohler, Angela; Campos-Herrera, Raquel; et al.
    Scientific Reports 10(1), 10.1038/s41598-020-64945-x May 2020
  • Engineering bacterial symbionts of nematodes improves biocontrol potential of the western corn rootworm (Feb, 10.1038/s41587-020-0419-1, 2020)
    Machado, RAR; Thonen, L; Arce, CCM; Theepan, V; Prada, F; Wuthrich, D; Robert, CAM; Vogiatzaki, E; Shi, YM; Schaeren, OP; Notter, M; Bruggmann, R; Hapfelmeier, S; Bode, HB; Erb, M
    NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY,  DOI: 10.1038/s41587-020-0478-3, MAR 2020
  • Engineering bacterial symbionts of nematodes improves biocontrol potential of the western corn rootworm
    Machado, RAR; Thonen, L; Arce, CCM; Theepan, V; Prada, F; Wuthrich, D; Robert, CAM; Vogiatzaki, E; Shi, YM; Schaeren, OP; Notter, M; Bruggmann, R; Hapfelmeier, S; Bode, HB; Erb, M
    NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY, DOI: 10.1038/s41587-020-0419-1, FEB 2020
  • Plant defense resistance in natural enemies of a specialist insect herbivore
    Zhang, Xi; van Doan, Cong; Arce, Carla C. M.; et al.
    PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA  DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1912599116,  NOV 12 2019
  • The Desaturase Gene Family is Crucially Required for Fatty Acid Metabolism and Survival of the Brown Planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens
    Zeng, Jia-mei; Ye, Wen-feng; Noman, Ali; et al.
    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES doi: 10.3390/ijms20061369, MAR 19 2019
  • Photorhabdus khanii subsp. guanajuatensis subsp. nov., isolated from Heterorhabditis atacamensis, and Photorhabdus luminescens subsp. mexicana subsp. nov., isolated from Heterorhabditis mexicana entomopathogenic nematodes
    Machado, RAR; Bruno, P; Arce, CCM; Liechti, N; Kohler, A; Bernal, J; Bruggmann, R; Turlings, TCJ
    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SYSTEMATIC AND EVOLUTIONARY MICROBIOLOGY, 69 (3):652-661; 10.1099/ijsem.0.003154 MAR 2019
  • Convergent evolution of a metabolic switch between aphid and caterpillar resistance in cereals
    Li, B; Forster, C; Robert, CAM; Zust, T; Hu, L; Machado, RAR; Berset, JD; Handrick, V; Knauer, T; Hensel, G; Chen, W; Kumlehn, J; Yang, P; Keller, B; Gershenzon, J; Jander, G; Kollner, TG; Erb, M
    SCIENCE ADVANCES, 4 (12):10.1126/sciadv.aat6797 DEC 2018
  • Whole-genome-based revisit of Photorhabdus phylogeny: proposal for the elevation of most Photorhabdus subspecies to the species level and description of one novel species Photorhabdus bodei sp nov., and one novel subspecies Photorhabdus laumondii subsp clarkei subsp nov.
    Machado, RAR; Wuthrich, D; Kuhnert, P; Arce, CCM; Thonen, L; Ruiz, C; Zhang, X; Robert, CAM; Karimi, J; Kamali, S; Ma, J; Bruggmann, R; Erb, M
    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SYSTEMATIC AND EVOLUTIONARY MICROBIOLOGY, 68 (8):2664-2681; 10.1099/ijsem.0.002820 AUG 2018
  • Aboveground herbivory induced jasmonates disproportionately reduce plant reproductive potential by facilitating root nematode infestation
    By: Machado, Ricardo A. R.; Arce, Carla C. M.; McClure, Michael A.; et al.
    PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT  doi: 10.1111/pce.13143, APR 2018
  • Sequestration and activation of plant toxins protect the western corn rootworm from enemies at multiple trophic levels
    Robert, Christelle A. M.; Zhang, Xi; Machado, Ricardo A. R.; et al.
    ELIFE   Volume: 6     Article Number: e29307  doi: 10.7554/eLife.29307  NOV 24 2017
Ricardo Machado Uni Neuchatel

Dr. Ricardo A. R. Machado
University of Neuchâtel
Institute of Biology
2000 Neuchâtel

phone: +41 32 718 3046

Research topics

  • Chemical and molecular aspects of plant-herbivore-natural enemy interactions
  • Ecology of Photorhabdus entomopathogenic bacteria (EPB)
  • Ecology of Heterorhabditis entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN)
  • Foraging behaviour of Diabroticine larvae
  • Insect resistance to EPB and EPN
  • Plant responses to herbivory

Interdisciplinarity

  • Ecology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant-Animal Interactions
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions