See how we use the process of science to understand the basis of bacterial infection.
Our goal: Understand how bacteria populate and manipulate other cells.
About half of all insects carry bacterial infections within the body cavity that are referred to as "endosymbionts". Among the most prevalent endosymbionts is Wolbachia pipientis, a relative of Rickettsia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia and mitochondria.
Wolbachiabacteria are especially known for:
1.) Manipulating arthropod reproduction i.e. feminization, male-killing, sperm-egg incompatibility, parthenogenesis
2.) Causing neglected disease in millions of people i.e. African River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis)
3.) Suppressing vector-borne viruses that afflict humans worldwide i.e. Dengue Fever, Chikungunya
Our focus: Determine how Wolbachia bacteria spread within and between insects
We are very interested in how bacteria are transmitted between cells and organisms. Our lab studies this in the fruit fly model Drosophila melanogaster, which carries a natural infection of Wolbachia bacteria. Findings from this work will help us understand the mechanisms of endosymbiosis as well as advancement of human health interests.