CRISPR directed manipulation of neuronal circuits and behavior in flies and mosquitoes to control devastating infectious diseases

A central question in neurobiology is how animal behavior and decision making is controlled. Using CRISPR/Cas9, optogenetics, electrophysiological, biochemical and cell biological approaches in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and in the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, our laboratory is defining the neuronal mechanisms that impact on decisions ranging from food selection to choosing the ideal thermal landscape, mate selection and others. As part of this endeavor, we are also deciphering polymodal sensory roles of TRP channels, gustatory receptors, ionotropic receptors and rhodopsins, and defining the behaviors that they control. The goal of our most recent work on the mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, is too control infectious diseases such as Dengue, Zika and others that affect hundreds of millions of people each year.