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Current Research (PhD Thesis):

Manduca sexta (tobacco hornworm) is a lepidopteran specialist herbivore of Nicotiana attenuata. Nicotiana sps produces nicotine, a pyridine alkaloid as a chief defensive metabolite against herbivory. Nicotine is highly toxic and it is one of the earliest insecticides used to control insect pests. However, in spite of nicotine toxicity M. sexta larvae manage to overcome dietary nicotine while also thriving. It is also known that M. sexta is 100 to 1000 times less sensitive to nicotine than humans. This prompted me to hypothesize that M. sexta detoxifies nicotine. Understanding the M. sexta larval strategies against nicotine is my prime interest. Identification of the M. sexta larval genes involved in nicotine detoxification and silencing of those genes by plant mediated RNA interference to decipher their role in M. sexta larval nicotine tolerance is the main objectives of my thesis.
last updated on 2013-04-04