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How does environmental context impact host-microbe interactions?

Since my undergraduate studies, I have been widely interested on how an organism's environment impacts life history traits and the dynamics between itself and its microbes, commensal and pathogenic alike. I use the power of genetically tractable tools in Drosophila melanogaster to understand the genetic and cellular mechanisms by which environmental conditions impact host-microbe interactions.

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PhD Research

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Impact of nutritional status on infection dynamics

An organism’s diet and its nutritional context have great impacts on whole body physiology, especially impacting its ability to resist and survive an infection. I am interested in understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms by which diet impacts infection outcome in both fruit flies and their pathogenic microbes.

Currently, I am investigating how high sugar diets lead to increased death and pathogen burden post-infection. I am doing this by identifying whether the system is compromised in flies fed these diets, and whether this reduction in immune competency is due in part to metabolic dysregulation. Particularly, whether diet-induced alterations to immune and insulin signaling interactions facilitate this increased prevalence in death that we observe on this diet. Further, I am interested on the indirect affects of diet-induced alterations to the gut microbiome may facilitate increased mortality post-infection.

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Diet can impact multiple aspects of host physiology to lead to
the ultimate outcome of death post-infection

Hypothetical Biological Model
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