Bretta Hixson
PhD Student
Graduate Student
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY United States

Areas of Expertise:
Host/microbe interactions, mosquito midgut repair

Research Organisms:
Aedes aegypti, Anopheles spp


Research Focus:

Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and zika affect millions of people every year. The pathogens responsible for these diseases interact extensively with their mosquito hosts, and many of the most crucial of these interactions are concentrated in the midgut. Viruses and parasites must invade the epithelial cells of the midgut and overcome innate defenses in order to reach the salivary glands of the mosquito and achieve transmission to new hosts.

My research involves using functional genetics to elucidate cell-specific responses to infection in the midgut of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a major arboviral vector. I am particularly interested in mechanisms of midgut repair following damage by invading pathogens as well as gut plasticity in response to nutrients or mating. Another important goal of my work is to identify genetic markers, generate transgenic mosquito lines, and create new tools for studying the Aedes midgut.