Heverton Dutra, Ph.D.

Pew Latin America Fellows
Title
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department
Biology
Institution
Boston University
Address
5 Cummington Mall
City, State, Zip
Boston, MA 02215
Country
United States
Phone
(617) 358-5070
E-mail
heverton@bu.edu
Website
http://people.bu.edu/hfrydman/home.html
Research Field
Microbiology, Cell biology
Award Year
2017
Country Of Origin
Brazil
Mentor Name
Horacio Frydman, Ph.D.

Research

Mosquitoes are vectors for a variety of viruses and parasites capable of causing diseases, from Zika to malaria. Recent research has shown that when mosquitoes are stably transinfected with Wolbachia bacteria, there is a reduction in the insect’s ability to transmit a wide variety of disease-causing agents. The Frydman lab explores how microorganisms and their hosts interact at different biological levels. The broad aim of the laboratory is to identify the mechanisms required for maintenance of Wolbachia infection through successive generations of their host and for infection into new hosts, aiming at developing tools to combat mosquito-borne diseases. Currently, a limited number of Wolbachia strains are being deployed in the field, raising concerns on the potential risks associated with such reduced diversity. I will investigate the use of new strains of these bacteria as a novel biological alternative to curb disease transmission. First, I will isolate and adapt specific Wolbachia strains from fruit flies capable of stably maintaining themselves within mosquito cell lines over multiple generations while elucidating a strong anti-pathogen effect. Next, I will explore the still obscure mechanism by which Wolbachia interferes with pathogen development. This work could allow scientists to better study how Wolbachia interferes with the transmission of pathogens from mosquito to humans and expand the repertoire of biological agents to curb mosquito-borne diseases.

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