Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-21-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Erik Hom

Second Advisor

Tamar Goulet

Third Advisor

Ryan Garrick

Relational Format



Sloths contain an unexplored ecosystem of microbial diversity in their fur, including algae, fungi, bacteria, and arthropods. These symbionts are able to communicate through the chemicals they release, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can lead to unique ecological interactions. The VOCs released from the algal polycultures of sloth hairs merit further investigation in their ability to cause a response from other organisms in this microbial community and within a broader ecological context. This research team aimed to assess the response of Drosophila melanogaster as test subjects when exposed to VOCs of the algal microbiome of a sloth. Exploratory research collected within the lab indicated that extracted metabolites from algal samples provided attractive responses when cultured between two and four months. Further research of extracted supernatant minus metabolites and other fractions of algal samples will offer more data for analysis, determining an attractive or aversive relationship between these extracted algal compounds and the response of various arthropod test subjects. By examining these interactions, this research highlights the potential of sloths as models for microbial ecology and demonstrates the complex interactions of this intricate microbial community.

Accessibility Status

Searchable text

Included in

Algae Commons



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