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Jurat-Fuentes Laboratory

Insect Molecular Pathology and Resistance

Contact us and learn more about our research in our Facebook group page
Welcome to our Lab!!

Our research is focused on the insect gut as a biological model to target for development of pesticides but also as a prospecting resource for discovery of new enzymes with biotechnological applications.

Main current areas of research in our lab include:

1) Characterization of the mode of action of Cry and Vip3A insecticidal proteins and mechanisms of resistance against them in Lepidoptera. This project includes the identification of Cry protein receptors, characterization of the physiological response to intoxication in the host, as well as mechanisms and resistance genes involved in resistance to Cry and Vip3A proteins.
2) Development and characterization of resistance to insecticidal gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi). Target pests are the fall armyworm and Colorado potato beetle. We are investigating the mechanism of >5,000-fold resistance to double stranded RNA (dsRNA) in a strain of Colorado potato beetle.
3) Characterization of the insect gut regenerative response after Cry intoxication and the role of this mechanism in resistance to Cry toxins in Lepidoptera. Our efforts are concentrated on identifying growth factors involved in the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells to overcome gut epithelium damage after exposure to Cry toxins.
4) Screening for the identification of novel cellulases in insects with potential use in production of cellulosic ethanol and improvement of livestock nutrition. We are actively screening and identifying novel cellulolytic systems from insect digestive fluids to make cellulosic ethanol a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels.
Results from these research projects have direct applications in biotechnology, cell culture, bioenergy, design of novel insecticides, improvement of insect pathogens as biological pest control agents, and the inhibition of disease transmission by vector insects.

Please visit our website and contact us if you would like to know more about our lab.

Last updated: June 2021


Dr. Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
The University of Tennessee
370 Plant Biotechnology Building
2505 E. J. Chapman Drive
Knoxville, TN, 37996
Tel: (865) 974-5931