Arthropod-Microbe-Plant Interactions Research Lab
My research program areas include both cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent methods to study arthropod-microbe interactions and plant microbe interactions. Microbial symbioses appear to be ubiquitous in our environment. Especially in arthropods, symbiotic microbes are beneficial to their insect hosts in many ways, including dietary supplementation, physiology and evolution, reproduction, immune homeostasis, defense and speciation. In particular, I am interested in identifying bacterial species and the active semiochemicals they produce that mediate oviposition responses of mosquitoes and sand flies. I am also investigating how microbiome diversity imbalance and within-host evolution affects pathogen susceptibility in different arthropods, and I am examining how microbiome interference can alter arthropod susceptibility to pathogens. My studies are coupled with different molecular techniques including DNA/RNA level real time quantitative PCR (qPCR) and metagenomics using next-generation sequencing.
Current Research Topics
- Development of an oviposition attractive blend for the surveillance and control of the sand fly Phelebotomus papatasi, the vector of cutaneous Leishmaniasis.
- Characterization and ecology of tick-associated microbiomes and their role in tick-borne human disease transmission in the US using high-throughput sequencing.
- Ecology of the chigger microbiome and its role in the transmission of the human disease
- Identification of bacteria-associated cues that regulate hatching of Aedes aegypti eggs
- Controlling fire ants by changing colony ‘body odor’.
- Investigation of antibiotic resistance bacteria/genes in filth flies in urban/suburban settings.
Microbiology (non-clinical): Bacterial isolation, identification of bacteria using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, amplicon-based microbiome sequencing and data analysis etc.
Insect bioassay: Arm-in-cage assays, cone bioassays, olfactometer & blood-feeding assays etc.
Selected Publications (click here for full publications list)
- Travanty, Nicholas, E. L. Vargo, C. Schal, C. S. Apperson, and L. Ponnusamy. Bacterial isolates derived from nest soil affect the attraction and digging behavior of workers of the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. Environmental Entomology (In review).
- Johnson, C. R., L. Ponnusamy, A. Richards, and C. S. Apperson. Analyses of blood meal hosts and prevalence of Rickettsia parkeri in the Gulf Coast tick Amblyomma maculatum Koch (Acari: Ixodidae) from a reconstructed Prairie Ecosystem in Piedmont, North Carolina. Journal of Medical Entomology (In revision).
- Lawrie, R. D., R. D. Mitchell, J. M. Deguenon, L. Ponnusamy, D. Reisig, A. D. Pozo-Valdivia, R. W. Kurtz, and R. M. Roe. Characterization of long non-coding RNAs in the Bollworm, Helicoverpa zea, and their possible role in Cry1Ac-resistance. Insects 13(1): 1-18.
- Travanty, N. V., E. L. Vargo, C. S. Apperson, and L. Ponnusamy. Colonization by the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, modifies soil bacterial communities. Microbial Ecology (Online First).
- Ponnusamy, L., H. Sutton, R. D. Mitchell, D. E. Sonenshine, C. S. Apperson, and R. M. Roe. Tick ecdysteroid hormone, global microbiota/Rickettsia signaling in the ovary versus carcass during vitellogenesis in part-fed (virgin) American Dog Ticks, Dermacentor variabilis. Microorganisms 9: 1242.
- Kakumanu, M. L., B. F. Marayati, A. Wada-Katsumata, G. Wasserberg, C. Schal, C. S. Apperson, and L. Ponnusamy. Sphingobacterium phlebotomi sp. nov., a new member of family Sphingobacteriaceae isolated from sand fly rearing substrate. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 71: 004809. Journal Article Link. NCSU Press Release; EurekAlert
- Deguenon, J. M., A. Dhammi, L. Ponnusamy, N. V. Travanty, R. Lawrie, G. Cave, D. Mott, D. Reisig, R. Kurtz, and R. R.M. Bacterial microbiota of field-collected Helicoverpa zea (Lepi-doptera: Noctuidae) from transgenic Bt and non-Bt cotton. Microorganisms 9: 878. Journal Article Link
- Kakumanu, M. L., B. F. Marayati, C. Schal, C. S. Apperson, G. Wasserberg, and L. Ponnusamy. Oviposition site selection of Phlebotomus papatasi (Diptera: Psychodidae) sand flies: Attraction to bacterial isolates from an attractive rearing medium. Journal of Medical Entomology 12: 518-527. Journal Article Link
- Kowacich, D., E. Hatano, C. Schal, L. Ponnusamy, C. Apperson, T. Shymanovich, and G. Wasserberg. The egg and larval pheromone dodecanoic acid mediates density-dependent oviposition of Phlebotomus papatasi. Parasites & Vectors 13: 280. Journal Article Link
- Deguenon, J. M., T. Nicholas, J. Zhu, A. Carr, S. Denning, M. H. Reiskind, D. W. Watson, R. M. Roe, and L. Ponnusamy. Exogenous and endogenous microbiomes of wild-caught Phormia regina (Diptera: Calliphoridae) flies from a suburban farm by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Scientific Reports 9: 20365. Journal Article Link
- Travanty, N. V., L. Ponnusamy, M. L. Kakumanu, W. L. Nicholson, and C. S. Apperson. Diversity and structure of the bacterial microbiome of the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, is dominated by the endosymbiont Francisella. Symbiosis 79: 239-250. Journal Article Link
- Shymanovich, T., L. Faw, N. Hajhashemi, J. Teague, C. Schal, L. Ponnusamy, C. S. Apperson, E. Hatano, and G. Wasserberg. Diel periodicity and visual cues guide oviposition behavior in Phlebotomus papatasi, vector of old-world cutaneous leishmaniasis. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 13: e0007165. Journal Article Link
- Ponnusamy, L., A. C. Willcox, R. M. Roe, S. A. Davidson, P. Linsuwanon, A. L. Schuster, A. L. Richards, S. R. Meshnick, and C. S. Apperson. Bacterial microbiome of the chigger mite Leptotrombidium imphalum varies by life stage and infection with the scrub typhus pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi Plos One 13: e0208327. Journal Article Link
- Paz-Soldan, V. A., J. Yukich, A. Soonthorndhada, M. Giron, C. S. Apperson, L. Ponnusamy, C. Schal, A. C. Morrison, J. Keating, and D. M. Wesson. Design and testing of novel lethal ovitrap to reduce populations of Aedes mosquitoes: community-based participatory research between industry, academia and communities in Peru and Thailand. PloS ONE 11: e0160386.
- Kakumanu, M. L., L. Ponnusamy, H. T. Sutton, S. R. Meshnick, W. L. Nicholson, and C. S. Apperson. Development and validation of an improved PCR method using 23S-5S intergenic spacer for detection of Rickettsiae in Dermacentor variabilis ticks and tissue samples from humans and laboratory animals. Journal of Clinical Microbiology: 02605-15.
- Van Treuren, W., L. Ponnusamy, R. J. Brinkerhoff, A. Gonzalez, C. M. Parobek, J. J. Juliano, T. G. Andreadis, R. C. Falco, L. B. Ziegler, and N. Hathaway. Variation in the microbiota of Ixodes ticks with regard to geography, species, and sex. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81: 6200-6209.
- Ponnusamy, L., C. Schal, D. M. Wesson, C. Arellano, and C. S. Apperson. Oviposition responses of Aedes mosquitoes to bacterial isolates from attractive bamboo infusions. Parasites & Vectors 8: 486.
- Ponnusamy, L., A. Gonzalez, W. Van Treuren, S. Weiss, C. M. Parobek, J. J. Juliano, R. Knight, R. M. Roe, C. S. Apperson, and S. R. Meshnickh. Diversity of Rickettsiales in the microbiome of the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80: 354-359.
- Lee, S., M. L. Kakumanu, L. Ponnusamy, M. Vaughn, S. Funkhouser, H. Thornton, S. R. Meshnick, and C. S. Apperson. Prevalence of Rickettsiales in ticks removed from the skin of outdoor workers in North Carolina. Parasites & Vectors 7: 607.
- Ponnusamy, L., N. Xu, K. Böröczky, D. M. Wesson, L. A. Ayyash, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. Oviposition responses of the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus to experimental plant infusions in laboratory bioassays. Journal of Chemical Ecology 36: 709-719.
- Ponnusamy, L., D. M. Wesson, C. Arellano, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. Species composition of bacterial communities influences attraction of mosquitoes to experimental plant infusions. Microbial Ecology 59: 158-173.
- Ponnusamy, L., N. Xu, G. Stav, D. M. Wesson, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. Diversity of bacterial communities in container habitats of mosquitoes. Microbial Ecology 56: 593-603.
- Ponnusamy, L., N. Xu, S. Nojima, D. M. Wesson, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. Identification of bacteria and bacteria-associated chemical cues that mediate oviposition site preferences by Aedes aegypti. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 9262-9267.
- Ponnusamy, L., X. Ning, Schal and C. S. Apperson. 2016. Mosquito attractant composition and methods. US patent No. US20100192451A1.
- Wesson, D. M., S. Apperson, L. Ponnusamy, X. Ning and C. Schal. 2010. Mosquito Trap. U. S. Patent Application No. US10178860B2.