Tori Moore ('13) | Biology

tori moore and dr. qiang xu

Honors student from Houston, Texas

As an undergraduate biology major, Tori Moore is not only getting practical experience in her field, but also the chance to do professional research alongside one of her professors, Dr. Qiang Xu, a molecular biologist who has been studying insect resistance to pesticides for several years.

"Tori and I have been studying gene expression and bacterial association in horn flies," Dr. Xu said. "We are trying to accomplish a better understanding of why horn flies develop a resistance to insecticide. We would like to find more effective ways to control this insect pest."

Solving a costly problem

The effect that horn flies have had on cattle all across America has become detrimental to the cattle business, resulting in $800 million losses annually.

"Horn flies are serious pests," Dr. Xu said. "They affect the productivity of cattle by interfering with normal feeding activity, causing loss of blood, reduced weight gains, and decreased milk production in infested mother cows."

Because the flies have found resistance to insecticide, Moore and Dr. Xu are looking for an explanation and hopefully a solution.

"We are at the beginning stage of studying the Wolbachia association in the horn fly," Dr. Xu said. "Several horn flies colonies have been established at the ACU Biology Research Lab. We will move on to the next stage of this research, in which we will grow Wolbachia bacteria in the horn fly cell lines."

Seizing an opportunity

The opportunity for Moore to become a member of the research team arose during a presentation in one of Dr. Xu's classes.

"In my Cell Biology class, students were asked to find recently published research articles and to present them to the class," Dr. Xu said. "I found that Tori was very sharp on research ideas and understood the research very well. After she learned more about the research, she decided to pursue this opportunity." 

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