Symbionts as indicators of host population structure and phylogeographic history
Dr. Heather Proctor (University of Alberta)
Mitochondrial DNA comes from obligatory endosymbionts (mitochondria) present in the cells of all eukaryotes, and is commonly used by ecologists as a tool for delimiting and interpreting populations. But there are many other types of endo- and ectosymbionts that may also provide us with understanding of host ecology and phylogenetic history. In this talk I will review studies that have explored the utility of multicellular symbionts as markers for host populations, including some of my own on symbionts associated with vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. Although there is great potential for gaining insight from host-symbiont patterns, the diversity of life-histories of the symbionts must be considered when interpreting whether the patterns actually reflect host population history and connectivity.