Research focus and expertise

Key Results

Genome sequences and annotation: BF2I members have been involved in several genome sequencing efforts: they participated to the sequencing and annotation of the pea aphid genome (IAGC2010, Wilson2010, Gerardo et al., 2010), of the genome of Sitophilus endosymbiont Sodalis pierantonius (Oakeson et al., 2014, GBE), and more recently, they are leading the sequencing of the genome of Sitophilus oryzae, in collaboration with the group of A. Latorre (Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva Universitat de València, Espagne).

Discovery of a new antimicrobial peptide (ColA) that is involved in symbiont control in weevils. ColA specifically targets endosymbionts within the bacteriocyte cells, inhibits their cell division and growth, and prevents their externalization from the bacteriome organ (Login et al., 2011, Science).

Identification of key metabolic genes and pathways in aphid/Buchnera symbiosis: Combining metabolism and transcriptomic analyses, we have identified a key metabolic pathway, shared between the pea aphid and B. aphidicola, and regulated in the insect parthenogenetic development: the tyrosine pathway (Rabatel 13). In this pathway, we pointed out the central function of phenylalanine hydroxylase, which silencing severely affects aphid fecundity and embryo development (Simonet 2014, 7th Insect Molecular Science). 

Discovery of a new mode of action of the PA1b bioinsecticide: we showed that PA1b peptide targets and blocks the vacuolar proton pump (V type H+-ATPase). As V-ATPase activity is essential for energizing nutrient absorption in insect intestine this new PA1b property is a promising means to fight against insect pests (Chouabe et al, 2011).

Discovery of a new PA1b homologue with a high insecticidal activity: Phylogenetic analysis of PA1b in Medicago truncatula has unraveled a new homologue of PA1b, namely AG41 that showed an unexpectedly high insecticidal activity.

Funded Projets

  • 2020 "Myzus persicae symbiotic interactions impact on host epigenetic landscape" IDEX-FAPESP
  • 2020 "Deciphering the mechanisms governing the development and organization of secondary bacteriocytes in aphid symbiosis" SEMAPHORE - F.R.S.-FNRS
  • 2019-2023 ANR : "Deciphering the Functional Organization of Cross-kingdom ‘metabolic factories’ in insect endoSymbiosis" (FOCUS)
  • 2019-2023 ANR : "Deciphering Bacteriocyte-specific Cysteine-Rich protein structure and activity: a new potential BIOpesticide FAMILY alternative to conventional chemical treatments" (BIOFAMILY) 
  • 2019 “IAP Expansion in aphid genomes and their role in the bacteriocyte cell death.” Research Collaborative Project supported by FNRS/KU-Leuven
  • 2018-2022 ANR : “Pesticides free-robotized pest control in agriculture” (GREENSHIELD) 
  • 2018-2022 ANR : “Unravelling the link between epigenetics and insect symbiosis.” (UNLEASH)
  • 2018-2022 ANR : “Deciphering host immune gene regulation and function to target symbiosis disturbance and endosymbiont control in insect pests.” (GREEN)
  • 2018-2020 “Network on plant-insect-symbiont interactions between France and Japan.” 2RI – International Research Network France/Japan
  • 2018 “Micro-Be-Have: Microbial impact on insect behavior: from niche and partner choice to the development of new control methods for pests and disease vectors.” Breakthrough Idex Lyon
  • 2018 “RNAseq analyses: bacteriocyte cell death.” Research Collaborative Project supported by FNRS/KU-Leuven
  • 2017-2021 ANR : “Host-Microbiota Co-adaptations: Mechanisms and Consequences.” (HMICMAC)
  • 2017-2020 “Structural and functional study of the weevil peptidoglycan recognition protein PGRP-LB”, half PhD fellowship (shared with INRA SPE Division) to support the thesis salary Diamond, Oxford.
  • 2016-2018 “The role of metabolic interactions in shaping the bacterial endosymbiotic community of the sweetpotato whitefly Bemisia tabaci.” Joint Research Projects France – Israel, CNRS/Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. 
  • 2014 “Hubert Curien (PHC) – Amadeus”
  • 2014-2018 ANR : "Immune and Metabolic Control in Intracellular Symbiosis of Insects" (IMETSYM)
  • 2013-2017 IAEA coordinated research project : "Enhancing tsetse fly refractoriness to trypanosome infection" 
  • 2011-2014 ANR : "Evolutionary genetics and mechanisms of plant adaptation in aphids" (SPECIAPHID)
  • 2010-2014 ANR : "Immunity and Symbiosis in Arthropods" (IMMUNSYMBART)
  • 2009-2011 ANR : "Hortibiope"
  • 2008-2011 ANR/BBSRC : "System level analysis of animal metabolism by multicompartment graph- and constraint based modelling" (METNET4SyBio)
  • 2008-2011 ANR Génoplante – "Symbiosis, digestion and reproduction as aphid physiological processes to identify new targets for insecticides" (APHICIBLE)
  • 2007-2009 ANR : "Cereal Protect" (Emergence) 
  • 2006-2010 ANR : "Endosymbiosis in Arthropods" (ENDOSYMBART)
  • 2007-2012 Joint FAO/IAEA Division of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture : "Improving SIT for Tsetse Flies through Research on their Symbionts and Pathogens"
  • 2005-2010 Ministère des Sciences et de la Technologie Espagnol : "Reductive genome evolution in bacterial endosymbionts of insects"