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Rodrigo Almeida

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A recent addition to CNRís faculty, assistant professor Rodrigo Almeida brings expertise to the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Almeida, most recently an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, conducts both basic and applied biological research.

Itís not terribly common to be involved in both applied and basic research. What do you focus on?

Well, applied research in emerging infectious plant diseases such as Pierceís disease is really important to society, agriculture, and the economy. But I also just love the discovery aspect of basic research. In that area, I focus on insect symbionts, or microorganisms that share a mutual relationship with their host insects. My lab uses genome sequences and molecular tools to study the vector-pathogen interactions that lead to disease transmission.

Why are symbionts important?

Well, many insect species have them, including most vectors of plant pathogens. They generally provide hosts with nutrients and are essential for survival. So using insect bacterial symbionts to control pests and the spread of insect-borne plant pathogens is a really exciting research field. It turns out you can actually play with symbionts and change that interaction to hijack the system. I think thatís so cool.

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