Dr. Lesley MacNeil’s lab works with the model organism C. elegans to study how the environment impacts health and development. Current research themes in the MacNeil Lab include:
- Environmental influence on neuronal health & neurodegeneration – The MacNeil Lab examines the effects of environmental factors on neuronal function and age-related neuronal decline and uses models of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases to study the impacts of the environment on neurodegeneration.
- Metabolic & dietary regulation of developmental processes – In response to low nutrient diets, C. elegans slows its developmental rate, taking more time to reach maturity. The MacNeil Lab examines how animals sense and respond to diet and metabolic changes to understand these mechanisms at a molecular level.
- Gene-environment interactions – The lab uses C. elegans to examine gene-environment interactions. They examine how the penetrance and severity of phenotypes in various genetic mutants are altered by dietary and microbiotal factors.
- Identifying factors that reduce bacterial virulence – In collaboration with Dr. Mike Surette and Dr. Lori Burrows, the MacNeil lab uses C. elegans as a pathogenesis model to identify factors that reduce virulence of P. aeruginosa.
- Insect microbiota collection – The team is constantly trying to isolate new and exciting bacterial strains to feed their worms. One of their current projects involves isolating bacteria from insects.