(co-supervising with Michael Lalk, Greifswald University (Germany))
In my Ph.D. project I analyse the chemical ecology of social spiders (genus Stegodyphus) collected in southern Africa.
Spiders are expected to live together with many microorganisms – the microbiome. We hypothesize that there are bioactive compounds produced by the symbionts that live in and on the spiders. With techniques of the metabolomics – the science of identifying metabolites – we search for bioactive compounds produced by the mutualistic symbionts of the spiders. These bioactive compounds could be novel antimicrobials. Furthermore we examine the gas phase in the nest of the spiders and search for substances (volatiles) that may play a role in spider communication. The techniques of the “metabolomics toolbox” that we use are: cell culture assays, agar diffusion assays, GC-MS, HPLC-MS, NMR, and mass spectrometry imaging.