I am interested in how animals, especially insects, function. The two foci of my research are (1) interactions between insects and beneficial microorganisms, and (2) integrative nutritional physiology, from the molecular function to whole animal function. The three current research foci in the laboratory are: (1) Drosophila-gut microbe interactions. We are investigating the microbial communities that colonize the Drosophila gut, using molecular and microbiological methods, and dissecting the host and microbial genes that define the impact of the microorganisms on host phenotype, especially nutritional function. Our purpose is to use this association, as a general model system for animal-gut microbe interactions. (2) The obligate intracellular symbioses in insects, especially plant sap-feeding groups, including aphids and whiteflies. We are seeking to identify key genes mediating the interactions between insect and bacteria and to establish their mode of action, by mining genomes for candidate genes, metabolic reconstruction, transcriptome and proteome analysis, and analysis of metabolite titers and metabolite exchange. We are motivated by the fundamental problem of how the bacteria have become integrated into the insect system, and by the potential of key symbiosis genes as targets for insect pest management. (3) Sugar relations of phloem-feeding insects. Phloem sugars are both the dominant carbon source and osmotic challenge for these insects. Our research includes the identification of gene targets and interference with the function of insect sugar-processing and other osmoregulation genes by RNAi, as a novel control strategy for phloem-feeding insect pests.
Outreach and Extension Focus
I seek to engage with the general public and non-specialists in topical biological issues, especially as they relate to my expertise. I have provided lectures and contributed to discussion panels on topics ranging from 'cooperation in nature' to beneficial microorganisms and aphids as pests. I also contribute to courses for in-service training of secondary school teachers.
In 2016, I contributed to the design of ARTH 4151 Topics in Media Arts, together with one lecture and lab visit for students. I also contributed one session in the graduate course BIOMG7810: Problems in Genetics and Development at Cornell University; a professional development class at the University of Cambridge, UK; and genomics workshops for undergraduate students at University of Mansfield, PA and Corning Community College, NY
In 2015, I contributed 20 lectures and linked labs/projects to Insect Physiology: (4830), one session in Graduate course ENTOM7670: Professional Development in Entomology, and one session in Graduate course BIOMG7810: Problems in Genetics and Development.
In 2014, I contributed 3 lectures in Chemical Ecology (3690), and one session in Graduate course BIOMG7810: Problems in Genetics and Development
In 2013, I contributed 20 lectures and linked labs/projects to the course Insect Physiology (ENTOM 4830), and I contributed to the BIOMG7810 Problems in Genetics and Development.
Awards and Honors
- Visiting Professor (2013) Northwest A and F University, China
- Karl August Mobius Fellowship (2018) University of Kiel
- 2015 Entomological Society of America Recognition award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology (2015) Entomological Society of America
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Research and Extension Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research (2014) Cornell University
- Sir Frederick McMaster Fellowship (2013) CSIRO, Australia
- Adair, K. L., Wilson, M., Bost, A., & Douglas, A. (2018). Microbial community assembly in wild populations of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. ISME journal. in press.
- Inamine, H., Ellner, S. P., Newell, P. D., Luo, Y., Buchon``, N., & Douglas, A. (2018). Spatio-temporally heterogeneous population dynamics of gut bacteria inferred from fecal time-series data. mBio. 9:e01453-17.
- Douglas, A. (2017). Big role for a tiny genome. Cell. 171:1472-1473.
- Arora, A., & Douglas, A. (2017). Hype or opportunity? Using microbial symbionts in novel strategies for insect pest control. Journal of Insect Physiology. 103:10-17.
- Douglas, A. (2017). Strategies for Enhanced Crop Resistance to Insect Pests. Annual Review of Plant Biology. 69:24.
- Douglas, A. (2017). The B vitamin nutrition of insects: the contributions of diet, microbiome and horizontally-acquired genes. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 23:65-69.
- Ankrah, N., Luan, J., & Douglas, A. (2017). Cooperative metabolism in a three-partner insect-bacterial symbiosis revealed by metabolic modeling. Journal of Bacteriology. 199:e00872-16.
- Martinson, V., Douglas, A., & Jaenike, J. (2017). Community structure of the gut microbiota in sympatric species of wild Drosophila. Ecology Letters. 20:629-639.
- Wong, C. N., Luo, Y., Jing, X., Franzenberg, S., Bost, A., Douglas, A. E., & , (2015). The host as driver of the microbiota in the gut and external environment of Drosophila melanogaster. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 81:632-640.
- Raguso, R. A., Agrawal, A., Douglas, A., Jander, G., Kessler, A., Poveda, K., & Thaler, J. S. (2015). The raison d'etre of chemical ecology. Ecology. 96:617-630.
Presentations and Activities
- Water Relations in Plant Sap-Feeding Insects: from molecular function to pest control targets. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. November 2015. Entomological Society of America. Minneapolis, MN.
- Biology without Borders. September 2015. Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
- The Multi-Organismal Animal: Insights from Insect-Microbial Interactions. Symbiosis and Developmental Biology. September 2015. University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN.
- Insect-Microbial Symbioses. Frontiers in Host-Microbe Interactions. August 2015. Woods Hole Marine Biological Association. Woods Hole, MA.
- Functional consequences of genomic decay in bacterial symbionts of insects. Ecological & Evolutionary Genomics. July 2015. Gordon Research Conference. Bideford, NH.
- Metabolic Coevolution:how insect hosts converse with symbionts subject to genomic decay. Animal-Microbe Symbioses. June 2015. Gordon Research Conference. Waterville Valley, NH.
- How gut microbes interact with animals: insights from Drosophila. 6th Congress of European Microbiologists. June 2015. FEMS. Maastricht, Netherlands.
- The Ultimate Extreme Diet:How Insects Exploit Plant Sap. April 2015. Kansas State University. Manhattan, KS.
- Metabolic Coevolution between Symbiotic Bacteria and their Insect Hosts. Annual Meeting of German Society for Microbiology . March 2015. German Society for Microbiology . Marburg, Germany.
- The Multi-Organismal Animal: Insights from Drosophila and its gut microbiota. January 2015. Emory University. Atlanta, GA.