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Invertebrates among most diverse and important group of animals. I have always had a deep interest in this group and their ecological importance in ecosystems. Of these, the social insects (bees, wasps, ants and termites) are the most biologically important due to numerical dominance. My research focuses on various aspects of their biology since social insects provide excellent model systems with which to test a wide range of behaviours from conflict to cooperation.
Currently there is a worldwide decline in pollinating insects and I am looking at the molecular changes associated with increased virulence of an emerging viral pathogen using the honeybee, Varroa mite and deformed wing virus as a model system. Recently we have shown in Hawaii that the new viral transmission route caused by the parasitic Varroa mite has selected for a viral strain that has led to the global death of millions of honeybee colonies. The impact of this study has helped stakeholders understand the problem and has influenced policy at the European Parliament. Currently we are looking at ways mite tolerance has arisen in various honey bee populations.
I am also investigating the underlying mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity in chemical recognition systems in ants, using Formcia ants as the model system. Understanding how phenotypic variation is generated and then maintained is one of the major challenges currently facing biologists.
We have developed over the past 8 years a detailed understanding of the chemical recognition system in the ant Formcia exsecta and are currently working out the molecular mechanisms that generate phenotypic variation, using the latest ideas and tools in molecular biology.
CURRENT AND PAST PROJECTS
Details of my current research activity can be found:
in my Salford Profile Page