Kristie Bruinsma, co-first author of “Rapid specialization of counter defenses enables two-spotted spider mite to adapt to novel plant hosts”
Current Position: Postdoctoral Associate, Biology Department, University of Western Ontario
Education: BSc, MSc, and PhD in Genetics, University of Western Ontario
Non-scientific Interests: gardening, traveling, reading
Brief bio: I have been interested in the interaction between herbivores and their plant hosts since joining the Grbic lab as a work study student during my undergraduate studies. I was immediately impressed by the co-evolutionary arms race between plants and herbivores in terms of the variation in form and function selected for in both. Additionally, the molecular details of such interactions can be vital to improving crop systems in sustainable agriculture. So, I joined the Grbic lab for my MSc degree, researching how Arabidopsis responds to spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) feeding and then turned to studying how spider mites adapt to new hosts using tomato as a model during my PhD. Most of my research involves transcriptional/metabolic profiling of plants/mites, using plant mutants and RNAi treated mites for reverse genetics studies and ultimately physiological assays of spider mite performance to identify plant pathways important to presenting an effective defence against spider mites or alternatively, how spider mites overcome those pathways upon adaptation to a previously challenging plant host.