My Master's research focused on the disease ecology of Microcebus griseorufus , identifying parasite species richness in the populations at Beza Mahafaly, and understanding transmission patterns of the intestinal parasites. I am expanding this work to include other infectious agents, such as ticks. Ultimately, my goal is to understand co-evolutionary relationships between pathogens and host immune systems.
My doctoral dissertation focuses on the evolution of resistance to certain viruses in catarrhine primates. I am exploring the role of the a1-3GT gene and its product , the carbohydrate moiety gal a 1- 3Gal, which results in differential infectivity by viral pathogens. Catarrhines are the only mammals known to not actively ex press the a1-3GT gene, having lost activity of the gene approximately 28 ma. This was a time of great diversification in catarrhine evolution. It has been suggested that the loss of the a1-3 GT gene, and thus the production of the sugar, was beneficial to surviving catarrhine lineages as it conferred a selective advantage over those lineages that retained expression of the gene. My research aims to test this hypothesis, and to discover the cellular mechanisms by which viruses may utilize gal a 1-3Gal during the course of their infections. Determining genetic differences between primate groups that result in differential susceptibility to viral infections will certainly have evolutionary implications, and may have implications for primate conservation efforts.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
NAME: IDALIA A. RODRIGUEZ
ADVISOR: LAURIE GODFREY
•PhD Candidate University of Massachusetts, MA; Biological Anthropology.
•MA University of Massachusetts, MA; Anthropology.
•BS (1999) Virginia Commonwealth University, VA; Anthropology.