Endocannabinoids are lipid-derived signaling molecules that control important physiologic processes such as feeding behavior and metabolism. We identified the endocannabinoid system as a new mechanism that influences host immunity to helminths. This work was done in collaboration with Dr. Meera Nair and Dr. Nick DiPatrizio at UCR.
We have entered into a collaboration with Meera Nair’s lab at UCR studying host-parasite interactions using Nippostrongylus brasiliensis as a model. Our first collaborative paper was just published. In this study, we investigated the role of host-derived RELMα in a nematode infection. RELMα is a protein secreted during a type 2 immune response. Our lab is excited to be working with nematode parasites of mammals and we look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration with the Nair lab.
We’d like to congratulate all of the undergraduate seniors that are graduating this month! That includes Christian Bowman, Lauren Braun, Shyon Nasrolahi, and Hector Villa. We wish all of you well in your academic and professional endeavors. We also note that Lauren Braun finished her honors capstone project through her project on entomopathogenic nematode behavior and will be graduating with honors. (Picture below shows Lauren & Dr. Dillman at the UCR honors banquet.)
Congratulations to Valentina and Shyon on the publication of their work on EPN activation. This research effort was led by Valentina and is the culmination of research that she’s been doing in the lab since January 2017. Shyon joined the project in January of this year and was able to make a significant contribution to this project. We support helping undergraduates publish their research.
We are thrilled to have our Specialty Crop Multi-State Program Grant funded by the USDA. Congratulations to Irma De Ley for all of her hard work on slug-parasitic nematodes over the years. We are excited to be working with her and our collaborators at Oregon State University on this project.
In collaboration with the Mortazavi lab at UC Irvine, we optimized a protocol for performing RNA-seq on single nematodes. The protocol was published today in Bio-protocol. Congratulations to Dennis and Dihong from our lab, and Lorrayne, Marissa, Katherine, and Rabi from the Mortazavi lab. This protocol should be useful to fellow nematologists and worm herders.
Undergraduate students Valentina Alonso, Lauren Braun, Kassandra Kin, and Nathan Mercado each presented research at the annual Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. The meeting was in San Francisco this year and the students had a great time. Their hard work paid off as they were able to present their research and learn about some of the exciting things being done in integrative and comparative biology.
From left to right (Lauren Braun, Kassandra Kin, Valentina Alonso, and Nathan Mercado).
Today our study of the X. innexi genome was published in BMC Genomics. Sudarshan Aryal, who is now a Senior Scientist in Nematology at Marrone Bio Innovations, was 2nd author on the paper. Specialist parasites are particularly interesting and Steinernema scapterisci is one of the few known specialist EPN parasites. We were interested to find that its bacterial symbiont, X. innexi, seems to be virtually avirulent to insect hosts, suggesting that the nematodes no longer rely on the bacteria to kill their insect hosts. Congratulations Sudarshan and our collaborators on this nice genomic study.
We have thoroughly enjoyed having Dr. Keyun Zhang as a visiting scholar in our lab. She has worked on the nematode Oscheius chongmingensis and Steinernema carpocapsae in our lab over the last year. We are currently working on publishing the results of her efforts. We look forward to continuing collaborations between the Dillman and Zhang labs.
Tiffany Baiocchi was the focus of a recent early career spotlight by the Genetics Society of America (GSA).
She serves as a member of the Diversity Subcommittee for the GSA. Tiffany is committed to teaching and mentoring others. She has participated in mentoring 15 undergraduate students in the lab, she is a Science Olympiad coach at Martin Luther King High School, she is a participant in the diversity education program at UCR, and she is an engaged and enthusiastic teaching assistant. She is a key member of the lab and we appreciate all that she does.