Entomology and Nematology
Attardo, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, specializes in medical entomology and genetics. He completed his Ph.D. in genetics at Michigan State University and worked for 13 years at the Yale School of Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, first as a postdoctoral associate and then as a research scientist. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 2017.
Insect disease vectors, insect reproduction, vector/parasite interactions, reproductive physiology, male seminal secretions, symbiosis, lactation, nutrition, lipid metabolism, transcriptional regulation, comparative genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics.
Diseases that are passed to humans by insects—such as malaria by mosquitoes—are responsible for more than 1 billion cases of illness and over 1 million deaths in humans each year. My work centers on understanding the reproductive biology of insect vectors of human disease. I seek to develop a detailed understanding of the molecular biology and physiology of these insects and to exploit this information for the purposes of vector and vector-borne disease control.
The primary subjects of my work are mosquitoes and tsetse flies. I study how female mosquitoes regulate their reproductive cycle and gene expression in response to blood feeding; I have demonstrated that mosquitoes require nutritional cues to begin developing eggs. I also study the reproductive biology of tsetse flies, the vectors of sleeping sickness and nagana in sub-Saharan Africa. The reproductive biology of these flies is fascinating, as they are one of the only insects that lactate and give birth to live young.
I hope to use the knowledge gained from these studies to improve current vector control strategies and to develop new strategies that disrupt the reproduction of these disease vectors.
- Study of lipid metabolism during tsetse pregnancy and the role that symbiotic bacteria play in this process
- Understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate the expression of genes coding for milk proteins during the lactation cycle
- Understanding the physiology behind mating effects on female tsetse flies and the role of male seminal secretions on female fertility
- Comparative genomic analysis of different tsetse species to identify factors associated with vectorial capacity
- Understanding the nutritional and metabolic impact of trypanosome infection on female tsetse flies and their reproduction
- Development of new non-invasive detection techniques to measure changing physiological states and determine trypanosome infection in flies using hyperspectral imaging