I am currently working on modifying Bt toxins for increased aphicidal activity, which can potentially be used for production of aphid resistant plants. The goals of my research are to (i) insert cleavage sites specific for proteases found in the aphid gut, (ii) determine if this modification results in processing of the toxin into its active form, (iii) assess whether modification results in increased toxicity to aphids. Specifically I am working with Cry4Aa-S1, a well-documented Cry toxin used for mosquito control, and inserting cleavage sites for pea aphid cathepsin L and B proteases.
I’ve always had a fascination with science that involves working with things that cannot be seen. I'm also interested in biology, evolution and genetics. Fortunately I’ve been able to combine these two passions in my study of molecular biology. The research for my previous master’s degree (in Entomology) involved determining gene expression in different behavioral phenotypes of the European corn borer. While I loved this work, my research in the Bonning lab has provided a more in depth training in molecular biology.