Arthropod is the largest Phylum on earth in its number and diversity. Many species of arthropods have significant impacts on human life and health. We study molecular physiology of arthropod species to gain fundamental knowledge and to apply the knowledge to improve human life.
1. Arthropod signaling peptides and their receptors.
The peptide signaling system, an ancient cell-cell communication mechanism, appears to be the top upstream commands that modulate various behavioral and physiological events. My research focuses on evolution of neuropepetides, their receptors, and functions. Model arthropods that we study are the species fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster), red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum), and blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis).
2. Signaling pathways for tick salivary secretion.
Ticks are obligatory ectoparasites that feed on the blood of vertebrate hosts and often transmit pathogens, including bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. The salivary secretions of ticks play an important role in blood feeding by modulating the host response. We investigate neural and hormonal mechanisms controlling salivary secretion, involving multiple neuropeptides and catecholamines.