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Our Team

Associate Professor (Reader) 

School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences,

Queen Mary University of London 


NERC Independent Research Fellow 2016 - present 


Marie Curie Fellow at Vrije University, Amsterdam,
NL. 2012-2016 

NSERC Fellow and PDRA at University of Oxford,
UK. 2010-2014 

PhD,  Simon Fraser University, CA. 2009 

Google scholar | CV (February 2022)


Dr Lee Henry

Primary Investigator

I study the evolution of symbioses, with a particular interest in evolutionary shifts along the symbiotic continuum. Within the Henry Lab, I work on both aphid-bacteria and ant-bacteria symbioses. Most notably, I’m interested in how the usually facultative symbiont Serratia symbiotica became obligate in at least four aphid clades (Monnin et al. 2020). In these clades, Buchnera aphidicola, which is usually the only obligate symbiont in aphids, lost the ability to provide some of the nutrients needed by its host. This results in tripartite symbiotic consortia, with Buchnera and Serratia contributing in a complementary way to nutrient provisioning.


Dr David Monnin

Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Bilal Haider

Post Doctoral Research Associate

My research interests focus on the genetic complexities of host control over beneficial microbes. In particular, my scientific question is how hosts are able to recognise and differentially respond to bacterial pathogens and mutualists. Do symbionts manipulate host immune systems to become established, or have hosts evolved a modified immune response to facilitate symbiosis? To address this question, I am using experimental manipulations, and dual transcriptomics, in a pea aphid-microbe system to understand the genetic architecture of host-symbiont interaction. 

I’m a molecular microbiologist who transitioned to computational genomics research after being awestruck by the resolving power and capabilities of modern tools in bioinformatics. My PhD project focuses on unraveling the genomic basis of host empowerment by the facultative aphid endosymbiont Regiella insecticola. Using cutting edge genome sequencing, phenotyping, and novel microbial culturing strategies, we aim to uncover how different strains of R. insecticola confer a plethora of adaptive advantages to their host aphids such as the colonization of a new ecological niche, resistance to parasitoid attacks, and fungal resistance. You can find my work here and on ResearchGate.


Balig Panossian

PhD Student (2nd Year)


I am Taoping, a PhD student from China. As a biology researcher, I find one of the most interesting things in nature is the formation and evolution of symbiotic relationships. I think symbiosis is so beautiful, charming and most importantly, logical. Now I am focusing on the symbiotic interaction between aphids and their defensive symbiont Hamiltonella defensa which can potentially protect aphid hosts against attack from parasitoids. When I am not researching aphid symbioses, you can usually find me reading, practicing martial arts or indulging in a video game. 


Taoping Wu

PhD Student (2nd year)

I have always been fascinated by insects for many reasons - social behaviour, parasitic behaviour, mimicry - but I had never appreciated the complex set of relationships that exist within the insects themselves. Symbioses between organisms and microbes have been crucial to their evolutionary development, and in ants it is believed to be one of the reasons they have become so ecologically successful. The aim of my project is to gain a greater understanding of the mechanisms behind the origin and endurance of microbial symbioses across a range of ant species.

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Phoebe Cunningham

PhD Student (1st year)

Lab Alumni

PhD Graduate

Raphaella Jackson


Dr Chloe Economou

Molecular Microbiology Technician

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