Uropygial gland of an owl chick (©Ester Martínez Renau)

Gut microbial communities of bird hosts have received more attention within last decade than other symbiotic microbial communities. The uropygial gland of birds play important roles related to feather integrity and health, and these glands host complex bacterial communities. However, our understanding of drivers, assemblies and roles of microbes residing within these glands are limited. During my PhD I explored uropygial microbiomes of Great Tits (P. major) and Regent Whistler (Pachycephala schlegelii) and my work demonstrated that:
1. It is important to investigate these microbiomes using both sequencing and culturing approaches.
2. Certain microbial taxa in uropygial glands have antimicrobial properties against pathogenic microbes, such as feather degrading bacteria.

This project also led to establishment of new collaborations with other groups working on uropygial gland microbiomes in Europe, where I got the opportunity to host PhD student Ester Martínez Renau (from Dr. Juan José Soler's lab), working on drivers of uropygial gland microbiomes across multiple European bird species.
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