The Fuse Lab is focused on understanding how animals respond to external stresses and tissue damage, from a physiological and developmental perspective. We use an insect model, Manduca sexta, to address questions that are fundamentally important for all organisms.
We have short and long-term projects for undergrads (freshmen to seniors) and Masters students.
1) Injury-induced nociceptive sensitization in an insect model
M. sexta shows a defensive strike response that becomes hypersensitive after a noxious stimulus. This is a form of nociceptive/pain memory that appears to utilize mechanisms similar to those used in inducing other forms of learning and memory. Our lab is interested in how conserved nociceptive signaling mechanisms are between invertebrates and vertebrates, and across categories of learning and memory. To this end, we are interested in understanding the cellular and molecular processes underlying sensitization of the defensive strike response, including identifying components of the nociceptive sensitization pathway.
2) Systemic Responses to Imaginal Disc Damage
Growth requires increases in tissue mass but also coordination between tissues to ensure appropriate body allometry. Regulation depends on both genetic and environmental factors. In holometabolous insects (e.g. flies and moths). The regenerative imaginal discs can be selectively damaged using x-ray irradiation, because of their high proliferation rates in the last larval instar, leading to developmental delays (putatively to provide time for the discs to repair/regenerate). We are assessing the mechanisms by which these delays are regulated, in terms of endocrine and immune/hemocyte responses.