Arthur Muller

Research interests

Regulatory potential of Photorhabdus bioluminescence in belowground multi-trophic interactions

Heterorhabditis are insect parasitic nematodes that establish a close symbiotic relationship with bacteria from the genus Photorhabdus. Together Heterorhabditis and Photorhabdus are highly pathogenic to insect and therefore, are broadly used as biological control agents in agriculture. Heterorhabditis nematodes break into soil-dwelling insects and release their symbiotic Photorhabdus bacteria. The bacteria multiply and produce toxins leading ultimately to the death of the insect. The nematodes then proliferate into the dead insect for several generations. Upon resource depletion, the nematodes re-associate with its symbiotic bacteria and emerge from the cadaver in search for a new host. Interestingly, during the infection process Photorhabdus bacteria produce and emit blue light causing the infected insect to glow. The prevalence of bioluminescence in the Photorhabdus genus, which is an energetically costly process, strongly suggests that this particular trait confer an adaptive benefit to the bacteria, although the evidence in this context is still lacking. My current hypothesis is that adaptative benefits of the blue light produced by Photorhabdus bacteria are derived from the modulation of belowground multi-trophic interactions between plants, herbivorous and carnivorous insects, and their nematode hosts. Using these organisms, I am using multidisciplinary approaches and developing molecular tools to contribute to a better understanding of the potential adaptative advantages of this unique and fascinating trait.

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arthur_Muller5

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArthurRJMuller

Arthur Muller




+41 32 718 30 85

Room A020