Abstracts (first author)
The genetic basis of variation in antiviral defense in Drosophila melanogasterPDF
The presence of evolutionary effects that pathogens and hosts have on one another provides an excellent model to study co-evolution. To understand the molecular basis of how insects evolve resistance to viruses in nature, we have investigated the genes that cause variation in the susceptibility of Drosophila melanogaster to viral infection. Two viruses that naturally infect D.melanogaster: sigma virus (DMelSV) and Drosophila C virus (DCV) have been used in this study. DMelSV infects up to 18% of flies in natural populations and is therefore naturally coevolving with flies. It is only transmitted vertically from parent to offspring and is a host-specific pathogen of D.melanogaster. In contrast, DCV infects many Drosophila species and can be transmitted horizontally. By using recombination mapping and GWAS, we identified genes and polymorphisms in the genes that associated with variation in the susceptibility of D.melanogaster to DMelSV and DCV separately. In order to experimentally verify the roles of these genes, we carried out RNAi experiments to knock down target genes and analysed the changes of susceptibility in flies. We also generated transgenic flies carrying specific polymorphisms of interest and analysed their effects on viral resistance in D.melanogaster.