A systems biology approach to unravel mechanisms of pesticide resistance

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Science


Pesticide resistance is a worldwide concern and elucidating the underlying mechanisms is critical for food security and human health. Understanding the mechanisms underpinning the process of pesticide resistance is challenging because they develop over evolutionary time, are influenced by foodweb dynamics and regulated by a complex machinery that involves direct organisms and indirect microbiota response. A transgenerational systems biology approach is need to unravel this complexity.
Here, we use the exceptional model arthropod, the waterflea Daphnia, to study longitudinal dynamics that led to pesticide resistance. Daphnia enjoys many of the characteristics of other arthropods, such as a short life cycle and externally laid embryos. These embryos can be propagated indefinitely in the laboratory via clonal reproduction, allowing the rearing of populations of isogenic individuals (clones) from a single genotype. Additionally, Daphnia is unique for its extended dormancy that spans decades or even centuries, making this model ideal to study the underpinnign evolutionary mechanisms that enable pesticide resistance. We will apply a systems biology approach to resurrected specimens of Daphnia transisitioning from pristine to perturbed enviroments by agricultural land-use. We will quantify the level of pesticides in the environment using mass spectrometry and the composition of the food web using environmental DNA. We will link these parameters to changes in Daphnia genome-wide transcriptional, metabolomic and gut microbiota dynamics, establishing causal associations among foodweb dynamics, genome-wide transcriptional and microbiota changes.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2264963 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Niamh Mary Eastwood