Summer is a great time to do research. It can mean concentrated time in the lab, or time for fieldwork! This summer MCIBS students can be found in Africa, China and fields and streams in central PA.
Alex Campbell is in China studying Asian longhorned beetles, which are now invasive in parts of the US and attacking trees in New York, Massachusetts and Ohio. The beetles are native to China, so going there offers the opportunity to study the beetles in their normal environment. Alex is investigating the relationship between the beetle and a fungus that is found associated with it. He is using comparisons with a close relative, the citrus longhorned beetle, to better understand the relationship between the beetles and fungus.
Closer to home, Justine Alexander is studying mosquito microbiome. Like us, mosquitoes carry around bacteria in their digestive tract, and this complex set of internal organisms comprises the microbiome. Justine is collecting mosquitoes from the wild and to characterize their microbiome and compare it to lab-reared animals. The ultimate goal is to test whether different types of microbiomes, for example “natural” vs “lab,” have different abilities to protect mosquitoes from the pathogens they transmit to humans.