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Halil Mert Solak, Georgia

Presenting my MSc Study. İlia State University, Georgia, 2019.

I have a keen interest in studying the evolution of vertebrates and their respective systems. My research focuses on exploring the adaptations of organisms in extreme mountain environments. In my MSc study, I conducted a comparative analysis of neutral divergence and immune defenses among ABMR populations residing at various altitudes. Throughout my Ph.D., I further investigated the influence of altitude, diet and population genetic structure on the composition of microbiota in ABMR. Currently, I work at the Charles University as a post-doctoral researcher and I continue the explore high altitude adaptations in different species and setups.

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Research Projects


Exploring the Microbiome and Diet Composition of Papua New Guinea Rodents Along Complete Altitudinal Gradients

Our research delves into the microbiome diversity and dietary habits of rodents in Papua New Guinea along altitudinal gradients. In collaboration with other research groups, we employed molecular techniques to analyze the 16S V3-V4 region for microbiome characterization and 18S rRNA for dietary assessment. Our study focuses on the Rattini and Hydromyini tribes, covering 36 taxa, including invasive Rattus species, aiming to illuminate the rodent fauna while emphasizing microbiome and diet dynamics.


Sampling expeditions were conducted in six localities: Baitabag, Finisterres, Mountain Michael, Mountain Wilheim, Nagada, and Wanang. We meticulously surveyed habitats at various altitudes, aiming to understand how environmental factors influence rodent microbiomes and diets. By comparing microbiome and diet profiles across altitudes, locations, and rodent taxa, we aim to unravel ecological patterns and associations.


Our research contributes valuable insights into the ecological dynamics of rodent communities in Papua New Guinea. Through our findings, we deepen understanding of rodent diversity and highlight the crucial role of microbial communities and dietary preferences in shaping ecological interactions across diverse landscapes.


Microbiota Composition in Sympatric Darevskia Lizards: Comparing Parthenogenetic and Parental Species

The composition of animal-associated microbiomes is influenced by environmental factors as well as host genomes. However, wild populations have been understudied due to a focus on model organisms and humans. This gap in knowledge raises questions about the ecological and evolutionary implications of host-microbiome interactions in natural environments.

The hybridogenous parthenogenetic Darevskia rock lizard system presents an excellent opportunity to investigate the influence of host genomes on the microbiome within a real-world ecological context. The parthenogenetic (clonal) species D. dahli coexists in the same habitat as its paternal species, D. portschinkii. While D. portschinskii has a single diploid genome, its descendant species D. dahli carries two distinct haploid genomes, potentially interacting with the microbiome in different ways. By comparing microbiome compositions between these species, we aim to discern the influence of host genetics on microbiome variation. Our approach will utilize 16s rRNA metabarcoding to characterize microbiome composition.

This study, to be conducted in Georgia, seeks to deepen our understanding of host-microbiome interactions in natural settings, shedding light on the ecological distinctions between parental bisexual and hybrid parthenogenetic species. This research has the potential to reshape our understanding of the evolutionary significance of parthenogenesis in vertebrates.

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