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Two Selected Examples from Non-Plant Systems

How do two transcriptomes interact when a virus infects an insect?


Certain baculovirus strains can infect insect species in a highly species specific manner and therefore present great tools to biologically control specific agricultural pests while being non- invasive on non-target insects. As a collaboration with the lab of Bret Elderd, we are exploring insect -viral transcriptome interactions in baculovirus mediated control for common agricultural pests. 

Detailed results from this project can be found at:

P. Pantha, S. Chalivendra, D.-H. Oh, B. D. Elderd, M. Dassanayake† (2021), A tale of two transcriptomic responses in agricultural pests via host defenses and viral replication. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. DOI:


Fall armyworm feeding on soybean

Image by Bret Elderd

What are the transcriptomic changes
during colony phase variation in bacteria?


Phase variation occurs when genetic or epigenetic events generate phenotypic heterogeneity in an otherwise isogenic population. Facultative pathogens of the bacterial genus Vibrio can reversibly or irreversibly vary their colony phenotypes in order to adapt to the mercurial nature of their surroundings. Switching to the biofilm-proficient “rugose” phenotype confers many survival advantages to vibrios, including enhanced resistance to phage infection, chlorine exposure, and osmotic and oxidative stress. In Vibrio spp., colonial phase variation is controlled by a complex regulatory network that also governs virulence gene expression, biofilm formation, and motility. As a collaboration with the lab of Gregg Pettis, we are searching for transcriptome signals that govern structural and metabolic changes during colony phenotype transitions in pathogenic vibrios in order to better understand their mechanisms of environmental persistence and pathogenesis. 

Detailed results from this project can be found at:

B. Lambert, M. Dassanayake†, D. Oh, S. Garrett, S.Y. Lee, and G. S. Pettis (2016), A novel phase variant of the cholera pathogen shows stress-adaptive cryptic transcriptomic signatures. BMC Genomics. 17:914 doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-3233-x


Vibrio vulnificus (A) Opaque (1), translucent (2), and rugose (3) colonies. (B) A rugose colony at higher magnification. (Grau et al., 2005)

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