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Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Thomas C. Jones

Committee Members

Darrell J. Moore, Karl H. Joplin, Ranjan N. Chakraborty


The unifying concept of endosymbiosis and the ‘holobiont’ is that the interaction of the microbial community and the host’s biology can affect myriad processes from speciation to physiology to behavior. This study explored the role of the microbiome as a potential facilitator of rapid evolution of social behavior in a socially polymorphic species of spider, Anelosimus studiosus. Adult females were collected from solitary and social colonies at two geographically distinct locations, and behaviorally assayed to assign individuals to ‘docile’ or ‘aggressive’ phenotypes. Microbiomes of each individual were analyzed by 16s rRNA sequencing. Correlations were found with external influences on the microbiome (colony type, local environmental microbiota, and among colony), and also between the microbiome and individual’s behavioral phenotype. While causation has not yet been established, these data suggest that demographics and ecology affect the microbiome, and that behavior may be affected by the microbiome.

Document Type

Thesis - restricted


Copyright by the authors.