Pest Management & Biological Control Research Unit
USDA-ARS, Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center
My areas of expertise include insect molecular biology and biochemistry with an emphasis on cellular signaling mechanisms, olfaction, and more recently transcriptomics. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying sex pheromone production, olfactory detection of environmental cues, cellular responses to abiotic stressors (heat/cold stress, oxidative stress, xenobiotic exposure), and the initiation/termination of critical behaviors such as feeding and reproduction. I am particularly interested in the role that neuropeptides and their cognate receptors play in regulating many of these processes.
The goal of my lab is to provide a molecular framework for understanding critical molecular/biochemical processes that can then be biorationally targeted for disruption by next generation pest management tactics. The principal organism studied in my lab is the western tarnished plant bug (Lygus hesperus), a non-model pest with a broad host range that damages a number of economically important crops such as cotton. To achieve this goal, my lab has recently developed transcriptomic-based databases consisting of thousands of gene products expressed within a specific spatial and/or treatment condition. We are now developing RNAi methods to assess the in vivo functionality of some of these gene products and exploring the use of cultured insect cell lines to provide further insights into functionality. To further develop the molecular framework, my research program collaborates on a number of projects with other scientists in our research unit and center as well as other ARS scientists and university-based researchers throughout the US and other parts of the world.
1. Biography (Current Page)