Alexandra C C Wilson


(305) 284-2003
Locator Code:


Research Interests

My research focuses on characterizing the mechanisms that metabolically and developmentally integrate hosts and symbionts. Symbioses are interactions between species; some symbioses involve one species living inside the cells of the other species - this is endosymbiosis. A compelling challenge in biology concerns identifying and characterizing the mechanisms of host/endosymbiont integration. I lead a research group that uses symbiotic partnerships involving a host insect interacting with one, or at most two, endosymbionts 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 BIL450/BIL640 TheBiology of Symbiosisto graduate students and upper level undergraduates. In this class we first gain an overview of the scope of symbioses with microbes 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 (BIL616) 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 also teach BIL250 Genetics. I greatly enjoy teaching this large undergraduate core class where I focus on students developing a deep conceptual understanding of the subject. 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.



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.
  • SEEDS You Choose Leadership Award, Developing Leadership in Biology at UM: National Center for Faculty Development
  • 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.

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Evolutionary Biology


Rispe C, Legeai F, Nabity PD, Fernández R, Arora AK, Baa-Puyoulet P, Banfill CR, Bao L, Barberà M, Bouallègue M, Bretaudeau A, Brisson JA, Calevro F, Capy P, Catrice O, Chertemps T, Couture C, Delière L, Douglas AE, Dufault-Thompson K, Escuer P, Feng H, Forneck A, Gabaldón T, Guigó R, Hilliou F, Hinojosa-Alvarez S, Hsiao Y-M, Hudaverdian S, Jacquin-Joly E, James EB, Johnston S, Joubard B, Le Goff G, Le Trionnaire G, Librado P, Liu S, Lombaert E, Lu H-L, Maïbèche M, Makni M, Marcet-Houben M, Martínez-Torres D, Meslin C, Montagné N, Moran NA, Papura D, Parisot N, Rahbé Y, Lopes MR, Ripoll-Cladellas A, Robin S, Roques C, Roux P, Rozas J, Sánchez-Gracia A, Sánchez-Herrero JF, Santesmasses D, Scatoni I, Serre R-F, Tang M, Tian W, Umina PA, van Munster M, Vincent-Monégat C, Wemmer J, Wilson ACC, Zhang Y, Zhao C, Zhao J, Zhao S, Zhou X, Delmotte F, Tagu D "The genome sequence of the grape phylloxera provides insights into the evolution, adaptation, and invasion routes of an iconic pest." BMC biology (2020).

Wilson ACC "Regulation of an insect symbiosis" Advances in Insect Physiology: Mechanisms Underlying Microbial Symbiosis. 207-23258

Thompson MC, Feng H, Wuchty S, Wilson ACC ) The green peach aphid gut contains host plant microRNAs identified by comprehensive annotation of Brassica oleracea small RNA data. (2019). [Link]

Feng H, Park JS, Zhai RG, Wilson ACC "microRNA-92a regulates the expression of aphid bacteriocyte-specific secreted protein 1" BMC Research Notes (2019). [Link]

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).


#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.

Lu HL, Chang CC, & Wilson ACC "Amino acid transporters implicated in endocytosis of Buchnera during symbiont transmission in the pea aphid." EvoDevo (2016).

Duncan RP, Feng H, #Nguyen DM, & Wilson ACC "Gene family expansions in aphids maintained by endosymbiotic and non-symbiotic traits." Genome Biology and Evolution. (2016).

Lu HL, Price DRG, Wikramanayake A, Chang CC, Wilson ACC "Ontogenetic differences in localization of glutamine transporter ApGLNT1 in the pea aphid demonstrate that mechanisms of host/symbiont integration are not similar in the maternal versus embryonic bacteriome." EvoDevo (2016).

Price DRG, Wilson ACC, Luetje CW Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes 1848 Proton-dependent glutamine uptake by aphid bacteriocyte amino acid transporter ApGLNT1. 2085-2091 (2015).

Wilson ACC, Duncan RP "Signatures of host/symbiont genome coevolution in insect nutritional endosymbioses." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 112 10255-10261 (2015).

Dahan RA, Duncan RP, Wilson ACC, & Davalos LM BMC Evolutionary Biology (2015).