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Life after death: Social evolution in a grave

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Burying beetles require a small vertebrate carcass to reproduce, which they shave, embalm and inter in a shallow grave and then use to provision their developing young. We are particularly interested in the interactions between the beetles and the microbial community that lives on the carcass. We have investigated the nature of the antimicrobials produced by the beetles to defend the carcass and we have tested whether the beetles recruit other species from the carrion community to assist in antimicrobial defence. We have also used metagenomics to analyse the microbiome of the carcass and to determine whether beetles actively manage its composition and structure – potentially to their own advantage.

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society (TCSS) series.

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