Dr. Chandler is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology. His research focuses on the microbial communities that are associated with animals and in particular the bacteria and viruses of insects. Dr. Chandler obtained his B.S. in Genetics and Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and his Ph.D. in Evolution and Ecology from the University of California, Davis.
All animals are covered, inside and out, in microbial life. For example, the human intestinal tract is home to tremendous numbers of microbes. The identity of these microbes is determined both by external factors, such as what you eat, whom you live with, and where you live, and internal factors, such as the activity of your immune system. Also, there are many types of microbes living inside you, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and these microbes are influencing each other in a way that determines which microbes can persist and which die out. Many of these microbes have no influence on one’s health, while some are beneficial, and a very small minority are disease-causing pathogens.
Of course, humans are not the only animals that harbor these resident microbes. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Shannon Bennett, I focus on the viruses, bacteria, and fungi that are associated with mosquitoes. This work has several components. First, I am trying to determine the external factors that determine what microbes are living in mosquitoes. These factors include if there are non-human mammalian hosts nearby (what they eat), if there are other mosquito species in the area (whom they live with), and if the mosquitoes are in urban, rural, or natural settings (where they live). Secondly, I am asking how different microbes affect each other by comparing which viruses, which bacteria, and which fungi are present in any individual mosquito. Finally, while addressing the above two points, I am testing methods to discover previously unidentified viruses of mosquitoes. These methods include advanced DNA sequencing technologies and sophisticated computer programs capable of comparing newly discovered genetic material (which may or may not represent new viruses) with the genetic sequences of known viruses.
This work interests me because it has both academic and applied aspects to it. Identifying the factors that determine which microbes can live on an animal is an exciting question in biology that has not yet been fully answered. Furthermore, since this work is in mosquitoes, some of which are responsible for vectoring human diseases, it has the potential to identify ways in which we can manipulate a mosquito’s surroundings to lessen their ability to carry human pathogens. Finally, the methods and tools that I am using may uncover unknown and potentially harmful viruses carried by these mosquitoes.
If you would like to learn more about me or my previous research, please check out my website at anguschandler.wordpress.com