Heverton Dutra, Ph.D.

Title
Postdoctoral Scholar
Department
Entomology
Institution
Pennsylvania State University
Address
226 Millennium Science Complex
City, State, Zip
University Park, PA 16802
Country
United States
Phone
(814) 865-1740
E-mail
[email protected]
Website
: http://vectorbiologygroup.com
Research Field
Microbiology, Cell biology
Award Year
2017
Country Of Origin
Brazil
Mentor Name
Elizabeth McGraw, 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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