TERENCE AL ABAQUITA
Environmental stress and the clock in Drosophila
Host Institution: Jagiellonian University (Krakow)
Supervisor: Prof Elzbieta Pyza
Secondment: University of Padova for 4 months for generating molecular constructs for mutagenesis.
Objectives: To investigate the role of neuronal and glial Heme oxygenase (HO) on the circadian clock and associated phenotypes after stress. HO plays a role in the DNA damage signalling pathway and shows two peaks of expression during the day that are regulated by the clock. Furthermore changes in HO expression alter circadian behaviour. We shall examine its expression patterns in the brain, particularly synaptic plasticity, under various environmental stresses (hot, cold, pesticide) and asses the DNA damage response in wild type and CRISPR/Cas9 generated ho mutants. We shall also use antioxidants to see if they have beneficial effects under normal and stress conditions.
About me: I always dreamed of participating in ensuring global productivity and sustainability of our economically important plants in my own little way. Born and raised in Valencia (Bukidnon) – a city surrounded by many farm fields and mountains in the southern island of the Philippines, I grew up believing that well-managed cropping systems with less application of synthetic chemicals against abiotic and biotic stress agents create better profit without compromising the environment. Undertaking a bachelor of science in agriculture major in crop protection (entomology option), with a thesis project about varietal resistance to rice grain pests, was the first stepping stone for me to gradually achieve my dream. Right after finishing my bachelor degree, I was employed as a lecturer in one of the agricultural universities in the Philippines. I started living my dream since my job offered me the chance to inspire the next generation of professionals in the field of agriculture to become productive members of our society. To keep myself at the cutting-edge of knowledge, I decided to pursue graduate degrees abroad. I studied a joint master degree program under the Erasmus Mundus scholarship grant with a focus on crop protection and plant health in sustainable cropping systems. I did this joint master degree at the University of Goettingen (Germany) and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). During my masters, I also completed an internship regarding a preliminary assessment of the efficacy of a possible entomopathogenic fungal isolate in killing soil-borne insect larvae through longevity assay and in growing under shaken liquid media. Most importantly, I carried out my master thesis at the Valencian Institute of Agricultural Research. My main objective was to monitor behaviors of mealybug-tending ants and a predatory coccinellid through laboratory and field assays. These experiences made me choose to further engage in research concerning insects. I also wanted to move forward into a more holistic approach through intensive behavioral, physiological and molecular studies. My research interests coincide very well in the overall scope of the CINCHRON project. It is clear to me now that all findings that I have obtained from previous experiments are related to biological rhythms, especially the circadian system. This realization has motivated me to learn more about insect chronobiology. Having a thorough understanding of this concept will assist in deciding or developing effective pest control measures and in optimizing the use of biological control agents. The recent patterns of global climate change encourage invasion and expansion of insect pests and disease-vectors into Europe, and potential for implications in pollination services and insect conservation. All the knowledge, skills and experiences that I will acquire through participating in this project will help me to attain my dream. This is why being a PhD student in CINCHRON will be a valuable opportunity for me to grow academically and become an active part of a future global change.