The Role of the Microbiota in Prey Capture Behavior
MetadataShow full item record
There is a growing body of evidence that normal nervous system activity requires signals from resident microbes. We have yet to discover the mechanisms by which the microbiota influence brain function. However, we know that the enteric nervous system (ENS) serves as an important interface between the developing host and its microbiota. In this dissertation I will introduce a novel computer-assisted method for ENS characterization and a novel, incredibly specific mechanism of host-microbe interactions. With new ENS characterization method I developed, it will be possible to better understand the role of the ENS during development, by more rapidly and algorithmically assessing ENS phenotypes. Furthermore, my discovery of a single microbially-sourced protein that influences vertebrate host prey capture behavior and visual system development, will provide a new appreciation for the role resident microbes, both in model organisms and in ourselves. By both establishing a new, less biased, approach to image analysis and describing a surprising new regulatory host-microbe interaction, the work I describe in this dissertation should provide the foundation for an explosion of exciting discoveries in the near future.