Advisor: Molly Hunter
I am interested in the role that microbial symbionts can play in allowing their host insects, especially pest species, to adapt to new environments. My current research explores the interaction between the sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, and a Rickettsia bacterium that recently swept through southwestern USA B. tabaci populations. I am using an interdisciplinary approach with field, laboratory and genomic tools to investigate the mechanisms and consequences of this new symbiosis.
Honors and Awards:
2003–2005, 2007, Research Assistant, Prof. Scott O'Neill’s Laboratory, School of Integrative Biology, The University of Queensland
2003–2005, Advanced Studies Program in Science, The University of Queensland
2002, Enrichment Studies Program, The University of Queensland
Penz T, Schmitz-Esser S, Kelly SE, Cass BN, Müller A, Woyke T, Malfatti SA, Hunter MS and Horn M. Comparative genomics suggests an independent origin of cytoplasmic incompatibility in Cardinium hertigii. PLoS Genetics. 8(10): e1003012. 2012.
Li X, Bai S and Cass BN. Accord insertion in the 5’ flanking region of CYP6G1 confers nicotine resistance in Drosophila melanogaster. Gene. 502(1): 1-8. 2012.
Degnan PH, Leonardo TE, Cass BN, Hurwitz B, Stern D, Gibbs RA, Richards S and Moran NA. Dynamics of genome evolution in facultative symbionts of aphids. Environmental Microbiology. 12: 2060-2069. 2010.
Brownlie JC, Cass BN, Riegler M, Witsenburg JJ, Iturbe-Ormaetxe I, McGraw EA and O'Neill SL. Evidence for Metabolic Provisioning by a Common Invertebrate Endosymbiont, Wolbachia pipientis, during Periods of Nutritional Stress. PLoS Pathogens. 5: e1000368. 2009.
McMeniman, C.J., Lane, R.V., Cass, B.N., Fong, A.W.C, Sidhu, M., Wang, Y. and O'Neill, S.L. 2009. Stable introduction of a life-shortening Wolbachia infection into the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Science. 323(5910):141-144.