Group Overview

Research in our lab focuses on the fundamental and applied aspects of two topics, invertebrate pathology and arthropod chemoreception. We use an integrative approach, that includes gene knockouts, transcriptomics, recombinant protein expression, enzymology, protein-small molecule interaction, comparative genomics, and protein evolution, to examine (i) the molecular basis mediating the interaction between the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana and its arthropod hosts and plant partners, and (ii) the biochemical genomics underlying odour-evoked behaviours in arthropods. Some of our projects look at novel approaches to pest control, the sustainable intensification of the agricultural sector, and ameliorating the impact of arthropod-borne diseases on health and economies by understanding host-seeking behaviour in arthropod vectors.

Fungal research

One of our goals is to design environmentally friendly and species-specific pest control strategies using the insect pathogenic fungus B. bassiana. Therefore, the study of arthropod-pathogen interactions is central to our work. (Larvae of the greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella, infected with B. bassiana).

Being able to produce more food while relying less on the use of agrochemicals is one of the challenges of the agricultural sector. The insect pathogenic fungus B. bassiana can form mutualistic associations with plants, which result in multiple benefits for the plants. Our lab is interested in studying the molecular basis mediating endophytic colonisation by B. bassiana so that we can exploit better commercial applications of this fungus. Our lab uses the model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Solanum lycopersicum cv. micro-tom to examine B. bassiana endophytic growth.

Ticks, due to their generalist feeding behaviour, are capable of transmitting to humans the most diverse number of pathogens. Our lab focuses on elucidating the molecular genetics and biochemistry of host-evoked behaviour in the tick Ixodes ricinus. I. ricinus is the primary vector of tick-borne diseases in Europe that include Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and tick-borne encephalitis. (Engorged nymphs of I. ricinus on mouse skin).