Researcher biography

Invertebrate Virology

Insects are commonly infected with viruses. We study the interactions between viruses and their insect or arthropod hosts.

Viruses are obligate parasites, that is, they are completely dependent on the host cell machinery to complete their replication cycle. During infection, viruses commonly cause pathology in the host. For these reasons, viruses and hosts are in a constant evolutionary arms race. The host evolves antiviral mechanisms to prevent virus infection, while the virus adapts to overcome these host responses. Insects are ideal hosts to understand both the host response and the virus mechanisms for controlling the host.

My research group investigates the interactions between viruses and insects, primarily using Drosophila as a model. In this model we can control the genetics of both the host and the virus to tease apart the contribution of each partner to the interaction.

We discovered that a bacterium, Wolbachia, mediated antiviral protection in insects. We have several projects investigating both the mechanisms that protect the insects from virus infection and the impact of this protection on virus transmission.