A. kondoi


Symbiotic relationships between bacteria and animals play a key role in generating and maintaining biodiversity in all ecosystems. For example, many plant species are significantly impacted by sap feeding insects, which are able to subsist on a nutritionally unbalanced diet of plant sap with the aid of symbiontic partners. After millions of years of co-existence, some symbiotic relationships are now obligate where neither can exist without its partner. In addition to being dependent on each other, hosts and symbionts each also face multiple evolutionary processes, which can result in the rapid genetic divergence of symbiotic lineages. For my postdoctoral research, I am investigating how variation in symbiont and host genes across populations affects symbiosis. We are using the model system for obligate symbiosis, Buchnera and pea aphids, and a combination of genomic tools and experimental manipulations to test hypotheses on the coevolutionary dynamics of obligate symbioses.


Professional History


Bennett, G. M. and Chong, R. A. (2017) Genome-wide transcriptional dynamics in the companion bacterial symbionts of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (Cicadellidae: Homalodisca vitripennis) reveal differential gene expression in bacteria occupying multiple host organs. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. doi: 10.1534/g3.117.044255

Chong, R. A. and Moran, N. A. (2016) Intraspecific genetic variation in hosts affects regulation of obligate heritable symbionts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 113(46): 13114-13119

Frahry, M. B.*, Sun, C., Chong, R. A., Mueller, R. L. (2015) Low levels of LTR retrotransposon deletion by ectopic recombination in the gigantic genomes of salamanders. Journal of Molecular Evolution 80(2): 120-129 (* = undergraduate co-author)

Leaché, A. D., Wagner, P., Linkem, C., Böhme, W., Papenfuss, T. J., Chong, R. A., Lavin, B., Bauer, A. M., Nielsen, S., Greenbaum, E., Rodel, MO., Schmitz, A., LeBreton, A., Ineich, I., Chirio, L., Ofori-Boateng, C., Eniang, E., Baha El Din, S., Lemmon, A., Burbrink, F. T. (2014) A hybrid phylogenetic-phylogenomic approach for species tree estimation in African Agama lizards with applications to biogeography, character evolution, and diversification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 79: 215-230

Chong, R. A. and Mueller, R. L. (2013) Evolution along the mutation gradient in the dynamic mitochondrial genome of salamanders. Genome Biology and Evolution 5(9): 1652-1660

Chong, R. A. and Mueller, R. L. (2013) Low metabolic rates in salamanders are correlated with weak selective constraints on mitochondrial genes. Evolution 67(3): 894-899
(F1000 recommended:

Sun, C., Shepard, D. B., Chong, R. A., Lopez-Arriaza, J., Hall, K., Castoe, T. A., Feschotte, C., Pollock, D. D., Mueller, R. L. (2012) LTR retrotransposons contribute to genomic gigantism in plethodontid salamanders. Genome Biology and Evolution 4(2): 168-183

Swei, A., Rowley, J. J. L., Rödder, D., Diesmos, M. L. L, Diesmos, A. C., Briggs, C. J., Brown, R., Cao, T. T., Cheng, T. L., Chong, R. A., Han, B., Hero, J. M., Hoang, H. D., Kusrini, M. D., Le, D. T. T, McGuire, J. A., Meegaskumbura, M., Min, M. S., Mulcahy, D. G., Neang, T., Phimmachak, S., Rao, D. Q., Reeder, N. M., Schoville, S. D., Sivongxay, N., Srei, N., Stöck, M., Stuart, B. L., Torres, L. S., Tran, D. T. A, Tunstall, T. S., Vietes, D., Vredenburg, V. T. (2011) Is chytridiomycosis an emerging infectious disease in Asia? PLoS ONE 6(8): e23179

Leaché, A. D., Chong, R. A., Papenfuss, T. J., Wagner, P., Böhme, W., Schmitz, A., Rödel, M. O., LeBreton, M., Ineich, I., Chirio, L., Bauer, A., Eniang, E. A., and Baha El Din. S. (2009) Phylogeny of the genus Agama based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Bonner zoologische Beiträge 56: 273-278