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Insect Physiology
We work with insect gUTs

Welcome to our lab!!!

Our research is focused on the physiology of the insect gut, particularly the molecular characterization of interactions between the gut epithelium and insecticidal Cry toxins produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), the identification of novel enzymes for biofuel production, and the characterization of the gut regenerative response after pathogenic attack.

Our research projects have been supported by funding from the National Sciences Foundation, the BRAG program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the Southeastern Sun Grant Center. Main areas of research in our lab include:

1) Characterization of the mode of action of Cry toxins and mechanisms of resistance against these toxins in diverse insect orders. This project includes the identification of Cry toxin receptors, the characterization of the physiological response to intoxication in insects, as well as the mechanisms of resistance insects develop to survive Cry intoxication.
2) Characterization of the insect gut regenerative response after Cry intoxication and the role of this mechanism in resistance to Cry toxins in Lepidoptera. Our efforts are concentrated on identifying growth factors involved in the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells to overcome gut epithelium damage after exposure to Cry toxins. We are also investigating the putative role of enhanced gut regeneration in resistance to Cry toxins.
3) Screening for the identification of novel cellulases in insects with potential use in production of cellulosic ethanol. We are actively screening and identifying novel cellulolytic systems from insect digestive fluids to make cellulosic ethanol a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels.
Results from these research projects have direct application in biotechnology, cell culturing, bioenergy, design of novel insecticides, improvement of insect pathogens as biological pest control agents, and the inhibition of disease transmission by vector insects.

Please visit our website and contact us if you would like to know more about our lab.


Last updated: February 2013
Locations of visitors to this page  

fUTre

Dr. Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
The University of Tennessee
2431 Joe Johnson Drive
205 Ellington Plant Sciences Building
Knoxville, TN, 37996
Tel: (865) 974-5931
jurat@utk.edu