McMicken College of Arts & SciencesMcMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

McMicken College of Arts & Sciences

biology_dept





Joshua B Benoit

Title:  Assistant Professor
Office:  711D Rieveschl Hall
Tel: 513-556-9714
Email: joshua.benoit@uc.edu

Insect stress tolerance, hormonal regulation of metabolism, reproductive physiology, molecular physiology, transcriptomics, insect-microbe interactions and vector biology 

Education

B.S., Wittenberg University , 2005 (Biochemistry).

Ph.D., Ohio State University , 2009 (Entomology and Physiology).

Research Interests

Mechanisms underlying insect stress tolerance, reproductive physiology, regulation of metabolism and aging are the encompassing themes of my research, with the goal of integrating these topics under whole system studies that use molecular-, organismal- and population-based approaches. The emphasis of my lab is on producing broadly-trained biologists that have knowledge and experience in a variety of techniques, allowing proficiency in bioinformatics, laboratory techniques and field research.  Although individuals within my lab are not limited to a specific insect system, there is a slant toward medically-important insects/arthropods such as mosquitoes, tsetse flies and ticks.  

Insect reproductive physiology. Insect reproduction varies from oviparity (egg production) to viviparity (birth of live young).  The main point of this research is on factors that influence egg production (mosquitoes, bed bugs) and production of live young (tsetse flies, cockroaches).  Research on tsetse flies and cockroaches focuses on the mobilization of maternal nutrients from stores to feed developing progeny within the mother, a process known as insect lactation.  The goal of these studies are to identify reproductive bottlenecks that could be used as targets for control of pestiferous insects.  Individuals focusing on this topic will have a broad understanding of the molecular mechanisms of reproductive physiology.  

Mechanisms of stress tolerance in insects. The ability of an organism to tolerate and respond to stress is critical to its establishment and persistence in specific localities.  The objectives of this research are to identify mechanisms utilized at multiple biological levels (molecular to population) by insects to prevent and recover from stress.  Projects investigating these responses range from direct measurement of insect stress tolerance to functional genomics and metabolomic analyses.  When possible field studies will be integrated into these projects to assess if mechanisms identified in the laboratory can be confirmed in natural populations.  Individuals working on these projects will have extensive knowledge of molecular mechanisms utilized by insect to prevent stress-induced damage and techniques necessary to investigate these mechanisms.

Regulation of nutrient storage and breakdown. Maintenance of nutrient levels is critical for organisms to maintain adequate body mass so they can function properly.  This research focuses on the role of insulin and other hormones in relation to the regulation of nutrient levels during progeny production, stress and starvation.  Projects involve the utilization of basic techniques of insect endocrinology and expand to the determination of large-scale transcript and proteome changes.  Two specific goals for this research: 1. determine the role of nutrient homeostasis during insect reproduction to reduce the fecundity of pest insects, and 2. identify factors that are similar among animals to promote insects as models for metabolic diseases.        

Aging. Aging and death are processes that affect every organism.  The process of aging is influenced by a multitude of factors including the genotype, stress exposure and reproduction.  The encompassing goal of the research topic is to determine how stress and reproduction alter longevity and fecundity. Specific topics include mechanisms by which individuals prevent damage at the molecular and organismal levels, biological differences between young and old populations and underlying machinery specific for long-lived individuals.  With our results, we hope to utilize non-model insect systems to identify new mechanisms that could contribute to extended lifespan of all animals.  

Post Graduate Training & Education

2010-2013, Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University, New Haven, CT .