My research interests are focused on the mechanisms behind the host-parasite interactions. I believe that one of the most important and exciting questions is how do organisms adapt to the changes in the environment. Insects have emerged as powerful models to study the different facets of phenotypic adaptations. Of special interest are changes concerning disease and parasite resistance and how these are transferred to future generations. Disease resistance is a fundamental adaptation, which has been shown to depend on environmental conditions. Classically, such adaptations have been mainly credited to changes in DNA sequences. However it has recently become clear, that both maternal and epigenetic mechanisms can affect the resistance to pathogens as well. Both are dependent on environmental factors and can increase the rate of adaptive evolution.
The phenomenon of transgenerational immune priming has been in the focus of my research for the past ten years. During this time I have elucidated the mechanisms by which invertebrates immune prime their offspring. Importantly, this can have a major impact in the fight against honeybee diseases by creating a basis for the production of the first vaccine for insects.