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Adamo Lab

Invertebrate Behavioural Physiology

Hi this is Atsushi, I'm pleased to join Shelley's lab since 2017. Below is my brief bio in terms of scientific activities.

(See my publication list at: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=7wbeEhoAAAAJ&hl=en)


I graduated from The University of Tokyo (Bachelor, Pharmaceutical Sciences) in March 2011, and I earned the doctoral degree (PhD) in pharmacy in March 2017. I also have pharmacist license in Japan, obtained in 2016.


Microbiology (2011-2012)

For my PhD education, I chose a laboratory of microbiology at the University of Tokyo lead by Dr. Kazuhisa Sekimizu, as I thought studying unicellular organisms is a good start for me. In the first project, I identified a couple of genes, using silkworm (Bombyx mori) as an infection model, in a synthetic pathway of cell-surface sugar component (Lipopolysaccharide O-antigens) as important virulence factors. They were necessary for human-pathogenic E. coli (EHEC) to resist the host animal's antimicrobial peptides (AMPs).


Immune priming in silkworm, Bombyx mori (2013-2016)

In the above project, I found an 'immune priming' effect in the silkworm such that the silkworms, once exposed to Gram-negative bacteria at larval stage, obtained infection resistance to the pathogen. Surprisingly, the resistance was observed even after they went through pupation (which means that some components for 'immune memory' is stored somewhere and kept undigested during metamorphosis). The molecular study of the immune priming was the major part of my PhD dissertation.


Biophysics, Bioinformatics, and Insect Ethology (2015-Present)

In last half of my PhD program, I launched another project on a field cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus, as I was impressed by the sound production mechanism of crickets. Crickets emit unbelievably loud sounds with highly regulated/species-specific song patterns. I've been trying to identify song patterns important for their communication system, using a 'data-mining' approach in bioinformatics. Presently, I am working on a cricket 'ecoimmunology' project in Shelley's lab. I am studying  whether/how immune activation alters other physiological pathways and behaviors to maximize fitness by mitigating costs.



Atsushi Miyashita (Post Doctoral Fellow)

Laura Ferguson (Post Doctoral Fellow)

Laura is a Killam Post-Doctoral Fellow, delighted to be back in Nova Scotia to work with Dr. Adamo and her lab. Laura obtained her BScH and MSc from Acadia University in Wolfville, NS, working with Drs. Todd Smith and Kirk Hillier on the reproductive and behavioural consequences of blood-parasite infection in Culex mosquitoes. She then moved to London, ON to complete her PhD with Dr. Brent Sinclair, where she explored the effects of low temperature and overwintering on insect immunity and host-microbe interactions.

Laura's passion lies in understanding how host-microbe interactions shape animal physiology and success under changing environmental conditions – whether through infection, or through “friendlier” associations in the microbiome. Currently, she is involved in understanding how infection with the causative agent of Lyme disease changes the thermal physiology and overwintering success of black-legged ticks in Nova Scotia, among a variety of other projects!

You can contact Laura at:  laura.ferguson@dal.ca

List of publications:

16) Ferguson LV, Dhakal P, Lebenzon J, Heinrichs DE, Bucking C, Sinclair BJ.  2018. Seasonal shifts in the insect gut microbiome are concurrent with changes in cold tolerance and immunity. Functional Ecology. 1-12.


15) Ferguson LV, Kortet R, Sinclair BJ. 2018. Eco-immunology in the cold: the role of immunity in shaping the overwintering survival of ectotherms. Journal of Experimental Biology. 221: 1-8.


14)     Ferguson LV, Sinclair BJ. 2017. Immune activity varies idiosyncratically in overwintering insects. Journal of Experimental Zoology 327: 222-234.


13     Salehipour-shirazi G*, Ferguson LV*, Sinclair BJ. 2017. Does cold activate the Drosophila melanogaster immune system? Journal of Insect Physiology 96: 29-34.


12)     Kaunisto S, Ferguson LV, Sinclair BJ. 2016. Can we predict the effects of multiple stressors on insects in a changing climate? Current Opinion in Insect Science 17: 55-61.


11)     Toxopeus J, Jakobs R, Ferguson LV, Gariepy T, Sinclair BJ. 2016. Reproductive arrest and stress resistance in winter-acclimated Drosophila suzukii. Journal of Insect Physiology 89: 37-51.


10)     Ferguson LV, Heinrichs DE, Sinclair BJ. 2016. Paradoxical acclimation responses in the thermal performance of insect immunity. Oecologia 181: 77-85


9)     Sinclair BJ, Coello-Alvarado, LE, Ferguson LV. 2015. An invitation to measure insect cold tolerance: Methods, approaches and workflow. Journal of Thermal Biology 53: 180-197.


8)     MacMillan HA, Ferguson LV, Nicolai A, Staples JF, Donini A, Sinclair BJ. 2015. Parallel ionoregulatory adjustments underlie phenotypic plasticity and evolution of Drosophila cold tolerance. Journal of Experimental Biology 218: 423-432.


7)    Williams CM, Nicolai A, Ferguson LV, Bernards MA, Hellmann JJ, Sinclair BJ. 2014. Cold hardiness and deacclimation of overwintering Papilio zelicaon pupae. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology 178: 51-58.


6)     Forzàn MJ, Ferguson LV, Smith TG. 2014. Calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis and tubular necrosis in recent metamorphs of Rana sylvatica (Lithobates sylvaticus) fed spinach during the premetamorphic (tadpole) stage. Veterinary Pathology 51: 384-387.


5)     Ferguson LV, Smith TG. 2014. Fecundity reduction in the second gonotrophic cycle of Culex pipiens infected with the apicomplexan blood parasite Hepatozoon sipedon. Journal of Parasitology 100: 442-446.


4)     Sinclair BJ, Ferguson LV, Salehipour-shirazi G, MacMillan HA. 2013. Cross-tolerance and cross-talk in the cold: relating low temperatures to desiccation and immune stress in insects. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53: 545-556.


3)     Ferguson LV, Hillier NK, Smith TG. 2013. Influence of Hepatozoon parasites on host-seeking and host-choice behaviour of the mosquitoes Culex territans and Culex pipiens. International Journal of Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 2: 69-76.


2) Trites MJ, Ferguson LV, Ogbuah CT, Dickson CM, Smith TG. 2013. Factors determining the in vitro emergence of sexual stages of Hepatozoon clamatae from erythrocytes of the green frog (Rana clamitans). Canadian Journal of Zoology

91: 219-226.


1)     Ferguson LV, Smith TG. 2012. Reciprocal trophic interactions and transmission of blood parasites between mosquitoes and frogs. Insects 3: 410-423.