The Pietri Lab is located at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. We are broadly focused on understanding the complex relationships between microbes and their insect hosts from the physiological to the molecular level. Our work lies primarily at the intersection of medical and urban entomology. That is, we are mostly interested in insects that impact health in human habitats. Blood-feeding arthropods such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and lice, are capable of transmitting a number of human pathogens during the feeding process. Additionally, urban environments can be a haven for other hazardous pests, such as bed bugs and cockroaches, that are understated contributors to chronic and allergic disease. The associations between insects and microbes encompass not only human pathogens, but also symbiotic bacteria that are vital to the biology of their hosts, as well as entomopathogens that cause insect-specific disease. By studying how insects interact with these diverse sets of microorganisms, we believe we can provide unique insight into the comparative function of host-microbe relationships while contributing to the development of novel biological and chemical interventions to reduce the burden of insects on global public health.
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We are recruiting students to join our team in the Spring 2019 semester! Please see people page for details.