Dr Fleur Ponton, Senior Research Fellow Macquarie University (MQU). My research aims are to understand the network of interactions that defines the relationships between nutrition and infection, integrating the roles of the host microbiota and immunity. I have developed a new axis of research which defines and investigates the interrelationships between nutrition and infection using an integrative and multidimensional approach. This research will provide significant insights into nutritional regulation of the innate immune system, the gut microbiota, and infections by different types of parasites such as bacteria and viruses. I work with insect models including Drosophila melanogaster which is one of the most tractable and powerful invertebrate models to describe nutritional immunology and host-parasite relationships. The results and methods I have described have opened a new avenue in the study of insect-symbiont relationships and are of general interest to numerous research disciplines, spanning from nutrition and life-history theory to public health. Click here to contact Fleur.
Research students (PhD and Masters)
Ida Lundbeck (2017), MQU first year Masters. Ida will be exploring the links between metabolic disease and resistance to bacterial infection in insects. Ida will manipulate the dietary composition pre-infection and assess the effects on insects survival.
Binh Nguyen (2017-2020), MQU PhD candidate. Binh will be investigating the gut-brain axis during her PhD. She will particularly focus on better understanding how nutrition affects the serotonin pathways. Binh will be co-supervise by Gilles Guillemin for the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Hue Dinh (2016-2019), MQU PhD candidate. During her PhD Hue will decipher the complex network of interactions between nutrition, immune function, gut microbiota, and infections in Queensland fruit fly (Q-fly). The approach will be multidisciplinary, adopting approaches and concepts ranging from behavioural ecology to molecular biology. She will use a wide array of techniques including diet manipulation experiments, microbiology, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and immunology.
Yao Wang (2016-2019), USYD PhD candidate. Yao will investigate the links and relationships between nutrition and cancer in Drosophila. Through a geometric manipulation of the diet composition, Yao will decipher how metabolism and cancer development interact.
Rajib Majumder (2016-2019), MQU PhD candidate. Rajib will investigate the microbiome of the Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni; Tephritidae). His investigations will focus on the composition of the gut microbiome and how this changes when a fly transitions from its native environment to the laboratory environment. He will examine microbiome changes through life stages and will track changes througout generations during domestication . PhD in collaboration with Dr Ania Deutscher and Dr Toni Chapman, Plant Biosecurity Research, NSW DPI.
Maurizio Benelli (2015-2018), Cotutelle PhD candidate, University of Bologna and Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University. Maurizio, from Italy, joined the lab in 2015. His interests include the development of mass rearing techniques of insects, their storage at low temperature and utilization in pest control strategies. His PhD project focuses on cold-storage of Queensland fruit flies to facilitate their large-scale production and ‘stockpiling’ for use in the Sterile Insect Technique program. Supervision with Prof Phil W. Taylor.
Tahereh Moadeli (2015-2018), MQU PhD candidate. Tahereh started her MRes/PhD in 2015. Tahereh’s PhD project focuses on the development of larval diets for mass rearing of Queensland fruit flies. Sterile Insect Technique programs currently under development will require production of up to 100 million flies per week, and effective larval diets, that produce high quality flies at minimal expense, are an important element of this effort. Supervision with Prof Phil W. Taylor.
Juliano Morimoto (2017-present) Juliano investigates a wide variety of topics ranging from host-bacteria interactions, nutrition, evolutionary biology, and animal behaviour. His main research topic focuses on the effects of the gut microbiota on reproduction and sexual selection in the Queensland fruit fly.
Vivian Mendez (2016-present) Vivian is a behavioural biologist whose research with Queensland fruit flies has explored pre-release supplements for Sterile Insect Technique programs, and developed novel control methods. Current projects investigate the effects of colony domestication on immune function and resistance to infection, sexual behaviour, and reproductive development of Queensland fruit flies.
Shabnam Tabrizi (2016-present) Shabnam joined the lab in 2015 as a Research Assistant. She is involved in research project investigating the role of nutrition and gut microbiota on immunity and physiology of larval Queensland fruit flies.
Caroline Fromont (2016-present) Caroline joined the lab in 2016 as a Research Assistant. She is involved in research investigating the role of nutrition on anti-microbial peptide expression in Q-flies.
Adele Martin (2016-present) Adele is a current Advanced Biology undergraduate at Macquarie University who is gaining laboratory experience and developing her technical skills with us. She is assisting with research into the effects of nutrition on immune functioning in fly species.
Ilona Tychsen (2016-present) Ilona is currently in her final year of her Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Biology at Macquarie University. She is passionate about conservation of species particularly of invertebrates. She is assisting in experiments exploring effects of gut microbiota manipulation on mating and reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster.
Jason Cassar (2016) Jason is is currently in his final year of his Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Biology at Macquarie University. Jason is helping in better understanding the efect of size distribution at the population-level on reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster.
Phil Taylor (Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University)
Steve J Simpson (Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney)
Ken Wilson (Lancaster University)
Laurence Macia (Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney)
Adam CN Wong (Harvard Medical School)
Owain Edwards (CSIRO)
Toni Chapman (NSW Department of Primary Industries)
Gilles Guillemin (Department of Biomedical Sciences, Macquarie University)