Alexandra C C Wilson

Professor

Phone:
(305) 284-2003
Locator Code:
0421

 
About

Research Interests

My research focuses on characterizing the mechanisms that metabolically and developmentally integrate hosts and symbionts. Symbioses are mutually beneficial interactions between species. They are so beneficial that they are everywhere - in fact you comprise ten symbiotic bacterial cells for every human cell and those bacteria are important determinants of your phenotype, the ability of your body to heal wounds, and digest food. A compelling challenge in symbiosis research concerns identifying and characterizing the mechanisms of host/symbiont integration. I lead a research group that uses symbiotic partnerships involving one host interacting with one, or at most two, symbionts to identify fundamental design principles in the evolution of symbiosis.

Teaching Interests

My teaching focuses on developing research, writing, critical thinking and professional skills. I teach the Biology of Symbiosis to graduate students and upper level undergraduates. In this class we first gain an overview of the scope of symbiosis by reading and discussing Ed Yong’s book, “I contain multitudes: The microbes within us and a grander view of life”. In the remainder of the class we learn about symbiosis by engaging with the primary literature around biological concepts that include heritability, mutation, and genetic drift. At a graduate level, I also teach a Professional Skills class to first year graduate students.  This course covers everything from learning to read and present science to learning about writing emails and memos, career planning, goal setting and developing productive mentor/mentee relationships. At an undergraduate level, I teach two sections of the Introductory Biology HHMI CHEM/BIO inquiry-based laboratories to UM freshman. My primary goal as a teacher is to engage my students to think actively and critically in class about the material being presented so as to push at the boundaries of their understanding and world-view.

Career

Education

2003-2006Post Doctoral Fellow, PERT University of Arizona
2000-2003Post Doctoral University of California, Davis
2001Ph.D. Biology Macquarie University, Australia

Professional Experience

1998 - 2000Visiting fellow, The Australian National University, Australia

Honors & Acknowledgements

Award for Dedicated Service, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Biology, University of Miami, 2015-2019
Outstanding Graduate Program Director Award, University of Miami Graduate School, 2016-2017
Elected Representative for the Americas to the International Aphid Genomics Consortium Board Member, 2009-2011.
Scholarly and Creative Activity Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Miami, 2008-2009.
Vice Chancellor’s Commendation for outstanding doctoral research, Macquarie University, 2001.
Australian Postgraduate Award, March 1997 – May 2000.
Milthorpe Memorial Prize for excellence in undergraduate plant biology, Macquarie University, 1993.
Funding
  • The National Science Foundation, Nutrient Exchange and Regulation at the Aphid Symbiotic Interface, PI: Wilson, CoPI: Luetje, 2014-2019.
  • The National Science Foundation, DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Mechanisms driving evolutionary innovation through gene duplication in the amino acid transporters of sap-feeding insects, PI: Wilson, CoPI: Duncan, 2014-2016.
  • University of Miami, Provost’s Research Award, Functional characterization of miRNA/mRNA interactions in an insect model of host/symbiont integration, PI: Wilson, 2017
  • The National Science Foundation, REU Supplement: Characterization of Aphid Nutrient Amino Acid Transporters with Focus on the Symbiotic Interface, PI: Wilson, 2012.
  • The National Science Foundation, Characterization of Aphid Nutrient Amino Acid Transporters with Focus on the Symbiotic Interface, PI: Wilson, CoPI: Price, 2011-2016.
  • USDA Arthropod and Nematode Biology and Management: Suborganismal Biology, Program Code 91112, Functional Analysis of Proteins and Metabolites in Aphid Saliva, PD: Jander, Co-PD: Wilson, 2010-2013.
  • The American Genetic Association Special Event Award, Pea Aphid Genome Annotation Workshop I, 2007-2008
  • USDA Tools, Resources and Genomics for Arthropods and Nematodes, Pea Aphid Genome Annotation Workshop I, 2008.
  • USDA Functional Genomics of Agriculturally Important Organisms, Microarray analysis of agriculturally relevant gene expression in the peach-potato aphid, Myzus persicae, PD: Jander, Co-PDs: Moran, Wilson & Gray, 2005-2009.
Research

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Evolutionary Biology

Publications

Feng H, Edwards N, Anderson CMH, Althaus M, Duncan RP, Hsu Y-C, Luetje CW, Price DRG, Wilson ACC* & Thwaites DT* "Trading amino acids at the aphid/Buchnera symbiotic interface." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2019).

SUMMARY:

#designates Wilson lab undergraduate; *designates equal senior author.


James EB, Feng H, Wilson ACC "mTOR Complex 1 Implicated in Aphid/Buchnera Host/Symbiont Integration." G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. (2018).

SUMMARY: #designates Wilson lab undergraduate; *designates equal senior author.

Feng H, Wang L, Wuchty S, Wilson ACC "microRNA regulation in an ancient obligate endosymbiosis." Molecular Ecology 1777-179327 (2018).

SUMMARY: #designates Wilson lab undergraduate; *designates equal senior author.

Mathers TC, Chen Y, Kaihakottil G, Legeai F, Mugford ST, Baa-Puyoulet P, Bretaudeau A, Clavijo B, Colella S, Collin O, Dalmay T, Derrien T, Feng H, Gabaldón T, Jordan A, Julca I, Kettles GJ, Kowitwanich K, Lavenier D, Lenzi P, Lopez-Gomollon S, Loska D, Mapleson D, Maumus F, Moxon S, Price DRG, Sugio A, van Munster M, Uzest M, Waite D, Jander G, Tagu D, Wilson ACC, van Oosterhout C, Swarbreck D, & Hogenhout SA "Rapid transcriptional plasticity of duplicated gene clusters enables a clonally reproducing aphid to colonize diverse plant species." Genome Biology 18:27 (2017).

SUMMARY: #designates Wilson lab undergraduate; *designates equal senior author.