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Life partners

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Science  15 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6467, pp. 788-791
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6467.788

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Summary

Nancy Moran has found clues to evolution in some unlikely places. At one restaurant 20 years ago, she nabbed a nondescript bug that helped change the way she and other biologists think about the evolution of complex life. Moran, an evolutionary biologist who is now at the University of Texas in Austin, has built a career from groundbreaking findings made in plant-dwelling insects. Her work on psyllids, aphids, and other sap-sucking insects has uncovered intricate and intertwined relationships with the internal bacteria that help them survive on a meager diet of plant juices. In part because of her work, Moran is "one of the people who pioneered symbiosis as a field and did so with rigorous work." It is widely recognized that these symbioses created life as we know it. After decades uncovering the evolutionary roots of symbiosis, Moran is now looking to microbial communities for ways to address today's challenges, in particular to see what role the honey bee's gut microbes may play in that insect's decline.

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