Welcome to the McCutcheon lab

Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana

We are broadly interested in the interactions between animals and microbes. Our focus over the last several years has been on the nutritional bacterial symbionts of sap-feeding insects. These are very unusual bacteria, existing only in the cytoplasm of specialized host cells. This lifestyle specialization has profound effects on the participating bacteria: insect nutritional symbionts have the smallest and most compositionally extreme genomes in the entire bacterial domain, rivaling and in some case surpassing the level of genome reduction observed in cellular organelles (mitochondria and chloroplasts).

Because these bacteria cannot be cultured in the lab, genomic techniques are at the core of what we do. However, the lab takes a broad approach to the study of these interactions, and students and post-docs will have the opportunity to be involved in projects that involve methods from genomics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and phylogenetics, depending on their experience and interests.

Please look around to learn more about the lab, and feel free to email us with questions.