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 in Thailand and its role in the transmission of the human disease, scrub typhus using the Illumina MiSeq sequencing platform.
- Identification of bacteria-associated cues that regulate hatching of Aedes aegypti eggs
- Controlling fire ants by changing colony ‘body odor’.
For more information about my program, please click here.
Consultations and Research Service Support, please click here.
Selected Publications, (click here for full publications list)
- Shymanovich, T., L. Faw, N. Hajhashemi, J. Teague, C. Schal, L. Ponnusamy, C. S. Apperson, E. Hatano, and G. Wasserberg. 2019. Diel periodicity and visual cues guide oviposition behavior in Phlebotomus papatasi, vector of old-world cutaneous leishmaniasis. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases In Press.
- Travanty, N. V., C. S. Apperson, and L. Ponnusamy. 2018. A diverse microbial community supports larval development and survivorship of the Asian tiger mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae). Journal of Medical Entomology In Press.
- 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. 2018. 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. Link
- Kakumanu, M. L., L. Ponnusamy, H. Sutton, S. R. Meshnick, W. L. Nicholson, and C. S. Apperson. 2018. Prevalence of Rickettsia species (Rickettsiales: Rickettsiaceae) in Dermacentor variabilis ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) in North Carolina. Journal of Medical Entomology 29: 1284-1291. Link
- Levine, J., C. Apperson, M. Levin, T. Kelly, M. Kakumanu, L. Ponnusamy, H. Sutton, S. Salger, J. Caldwell, and A. Szempruch. 2017. Stable transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto on the outer banks of North Carolina. Zoonoses and Public Health 64: 337-354. Link
- Wallace, J. W., W. L. Nicholson, J. L. Perniciaro, M. F. Vaughn, S. Funkhouser, J. J. Juliano, S. Lee, M. L. Kakumanu, L. Ponnusamy, and C. S. Apperson. 2016. Incident tick-borne infections in a cohort of North Carolina outdoor workers. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 16: 302-308. 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. 2016. 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. Link
- Kakumanu, M. L., L. Ponnusamy, H. T. Sutton, S. R. Meshnick, W. L. Nicholson, and C. S. Apperson. 2016. 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. Link
- Dhammi, A., J. B. van Krestchmar, L. Ponnusamy, J. S. Bacheler, D. D. Reisig, A. Herbert, A. I. Del Pozo-Valdivia, and R. M. Roe. 2016. Biology, pest status, microbiome and control of kudzu bug (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Plataspidae): a new invasive pest in the US. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 17: 1570. Link
- Choi, D. B., J. P. Grieco, C. S. Apperson, C. Schal, L. Ponnusamy, D. M. Wesson, and N. L. Achee. 2016. Effect of spatial repellent exposure on dengue vector attraction to oviposition sites. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 10: e0004850. Link
- 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. 2015. Variation in the microbiota of Ixodes ticks with regard to geography, species, and sex. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81: 6200-6209. Link
- Ponnusamy, L., C. Schal, D. M. Wesson, C. Arellano, and C. S. Apperson. 2015. Oviposition responses of Aedes mosquitoes to bacterial isolates from attractive bamboo infusions. Parasites & Vectors 8: 486. Link
- Marayati, B. F., C. Schal, L. Ponnusamy, C. S. Apperson, T. E. Rowland, and G. Wasserberg. 2015. Attraction and oviposition preferences of Phlebotomus papatasi (Diptera: Psychodidae), vector of Old-World cutaneous leishmaniasis, to larval rearing media. Parasites & Vectors 8: 663. Link
- Londono-Renteria, B., J. C. Patel, M. Vaughn, S. Funkhauser, L. Ponnusamy, C. Grippin, S. B. Jameson, C. Apperson, C. N. Mores, and D. M. Wesson. 2015. Long-lasting permethrin-impregnated clothing protects against mosquito bites in outdoor workers. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 93: 869-874. Link
- Guagliardo, S. A., A. C. Morrison, J. Luis Barboza, D. M. Wesson, L. Ponnusamy, H. Astete, G. Vazquez-Prokopec, and U. Kitron. 2015. Evidence for Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) oviposition on boats in the Peruvian Amazon. Journal of Medical Entomology 52: 726-729. Link
- 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. 2014. Diversity of Rickettsiales in the microbiome of the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80: 354-359. Link
- Lee, S., M. L. Kakumanu, L. Ponnusamy, M. Vaughn, S. Funkhouser, H. Thornton, S. R. Meshnick, and C. S. Apperson. 2014. Prevalence of Rickettsiales in ticks removed from the skin of outdoor workers in North Carolina. Parasites & Vectors 7: 607. Link
- Wesson, D., A. Morrison, V. P. Soldan, R. Moudy, K. Long, L. Ponnusamy, J. Mohler, H. Astete, L. Ayyash, and E. Halsey. 2012. Lethal ovitraps and dengue prevention: report from Iquitos, Peru. International Journal of Infectious Diseases 16: e473.
- Ponnusamy, L., K. Böröczky, D. M. Wesson, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. 2011. Bacteria stimulate hatching of yellow fever mosquito eggs. PLoS One 6: e24409. Link
- Ponnusamy, L., N. Xu, K. Böröczky, D. M. Wesson, L. A. Ayyash, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. 2010. Oviposition responses of the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus to experimental plant infusions in laboratory bioassays. Journal of Chemical Ecology 36: 709-719. Link
- Ponnusamy, L., D. M. Wesson, C. Arellano, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. 2010. Species composition of bacterial communities influences attraction of mosquitoes to experimental plant infusions. Microbial Ecology 59: 158-173. Link
- Ponnusamy, L., N. Xu, G. Stav, D. M. Wesson, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. 2008. Diversity of bacterial communities in container habitats of mosquitoes. Microbial Ecology 56: 593-603. Link
- Ponnusamy, L., N. Xu, S. Nojima, D. M. Wesson, C. Schal, and C. S. Apperson. 2008. 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. Link
- Ponnusamy, L., X. Ning, Schal and C. S. Apperson. 2016. Mosquito attractant composition and methods. US patent No. US9392788B2.
- Wesson, D. M., S. Apperson, L. Ponnusamy, X. Ning and C. Schal. 2010. Mosquito Trap. U. S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/299,838.
Media Contact (selected from over hundreds of news coverage)
- Scientists discover chemical cues that stimulate egg laying by pregnant mosquitoes, highlighted in NCSU’s Perspectives, Fall, 2008, page 22. http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/magazine/fall08/n_mosquitoes.html
- Not just any water will do for mosquitoes, written by Henry Fountain in The New York Times, July 15, 2008, page D3. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/science/15obmosq.html
- Scientists hit upon source of dengue, our research findings highlighted by Kumar Chellappan in Deccan Chronicle, September 04, 2008, page 5.
- Yellow fever mosquito takes chemical cues from bacteria, by Hayley Birch, in Chemistry World, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), July 08, 2008. http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2008/July/08070801.asp
- Bacterium with salinity tolerance, published in Hindu national news magazine, Edited by Agriculture Correspondent, January 15, 2004, page 11.
- Microbe to help reduce use of fertilizers identified, Edited By special correspondent in Hindu national news Magazine, January 06, 2004, page 12.
- Great little wonder, edited by T V Jayan about our research in Science and Technology section of Down to Earth magazine, February 15, 2004, page 27.