Insect viruses have developed ways to surpass the natural barrier of the gut epithelium to establish an infection in their host. This ability of viruses could be beneficially employed for insect pest management purposes, and used as a delivery system to transport important toxins to the hemocoel. My current research focuses on delineating the mechanisms of transcytosis and virus movement across the insect mid-gut into the hemolymph.
My work focuses on studying the interaction of nutritional stress and viral infection in honey bees, with the goal of better understanding the roles these factors play in honey bee declines. I am also broadly interested in insect behavior, physiology, and endocrinology, and have a strong background in ant behavioral physiology.
My research interests are small non-coding RNA and the biological phenomenon of RNA interference. The specific goals of my current research are, (i) identify and characterize aphid viruses and (ii) characterize aphid micro RNAs in multiple aphid species. We use a combination of bioinformatics and molecular biology on small RNA sequencing datasets to achieve these goals.
My current research work focuses on two major goals: 1. Identification of gut receptors in aphids that are involved in uptake of luteoviruses, and 2. Examination of mechanisms of transcytosis across the insect gut. Both of these areas of research have the potential to provide novel tools for insect pest management.