Pest Management & Biological Control Research Unit
USDA-ARS, Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center
B.S. Biochemistry, Kansas State University 1995
Ph.D. Biochemistry, Kansas State University 2003
My primary research interest involves the understanding of various insect molecular, biochemical and physiological functions. My lab is currently working to better understand the properties and function of insect receptor proteins that interact with insecticidal Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins to target insect pests. Several such Bt proteins are currently produced in commercial transgenic crops (such as corn and cotton) and represent vital management tools against many important insect pests. Unfortunately, pest resistance to Bt crops is increasing, which ultimately threatens to diminish the benefits associated with such crops. My laboratory is actively characterizing the molecular, biochemical, and genetic basis of resistance to Bt, namely resistance to Bt cotton in the pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella. By understanding how insects adapt or evolve resistance to insecticidal proteins produced in Bt crops, we hope to extend the life of the currently available technologies and enable the design of new ones to delay the onset of resistance and/or to specifically target resistant insects.
My laboratory is also active in the molecular characterization and targeting of important hemipteran insect pests of cotton, such as the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, and the western tarnished plant bug, Lygus hesperus. We are studying a family of channel proteins (aquaporins) that function to transport water and other small solutes across biological membranes and are important for the maintenance of water homeostasis. We have characterized a number of aquaporin transport proteins in these pests and are designing novel means to target these and other gene products for improved pest control methods.
Results of our research has direct application to biotechnology and agriculture. Namely, our work supports enhanced crop protection through the improvement of resistance management strategies involving the implementation of more effective monitoring and mitigation of insecticide resistance, and by enabling the rational development of new, safe and effective pesticides.
1. Biography (Current Page)