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Ph.D. University of California, San Diego
Phone: (818) 677-3347
Fax: (818) 677-2034
Office: Citrus Hall 3220
Nematodes are ideal candidates for the study of development and behavior in the context of their ecology because they are ubiquitous, small organisms that occupy most of the Earth’s known ecological niches: soil, animals, and plants. Unlike most animals, nematodes are easy to culture and readily “domesticated” in the lab for analyses at the genetic, cellular, and organismal levels. My work primarily involves the use of the nematode model Pristionchus pacificus, which has been used to study the evolution of developmental processes in a comparative context using genetics and molecular biology. P. pacificus has a maturing genetic (forward and reverse) and genomic platform (10x Sanger sequenced genome by NIH and Solexa resequenced genome by MPI, as well as extensive ESTs; www.pristionchus.org). Species in the Pristionchus genus is a truly ideal system to make evolutionary comparisons at various taxonomical levels. In addition to P. pacificus, several Pristionchus species are also free-living nematodes associated with beetles, and all are easily obtained from the wild as well as maintained and freeze stocked in the lab. Pristionchus nematodes maintain specific insect interactions by intercepting the intra-species communications of their host insects, and natural variation in chemosensation can be analyzed in P. pacificus populations since instinctive chemosensory behaviors are often developmentally determined. Currently, there is no known interspecies pheromone receptors known in nematodes so we are particularly keen on finding out what receptors P. pacificus utilizes to detect the pheromone of one of its hosts, the oriental beetle. My ultimate goal is to understand the specific developmental and genetic nature of Pristionchus attraction to beetles compounds from the molecular to the population level.
Additional Academic History:
1996 B.A. Pomona College, Claremont, CA
2003-2008 Post-doctoral fellow at Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tuebingen, Germany
SCORE SC2 1SC2GM089602-01(NIH, NIGMS)
S Kroetz, J Srinivasan, J Yaghoobian, PW Sternberg, RL Hong (2012). The cGMP Signaling Pathway Affects Feeding Behavior in the Necromenic Nematode Pristionchus pacificus. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34464.
JK Cinkornpumin and RL Hong (2011). RNAi mediated gene knockdown and transgenesis by microinjection in the necromenic nematode Pristionchus pacificus. J. Visualized Experiments (56), e3270, DOI:10.3791/3270.
RL Hong, H Witte, RJ Sommer (2008). Natural Variation in Pristionchus pacificus Insect Pheromone Attraction Involve the cGMP-Dependent Protein Kinase EGL-4. Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences, USA, 105(22), 7779-7784.
RL Hong, A Svatos, M Herrmann, and RJ Sommer (2008). Species-Specific Recognition of Beetle Cues by the Nematode Pristionchus maupasi. Evolution and Development, 10(3), 273-279.
M Herrmann, WE Werner, RL Hong, S Kienle, R. Minasaki, and RJ Sommer (2007). The nematode Pristionchus pacificus (Nematoda: Diplogastridae) is associated with the Oriental beetle Exomala orientalis (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) in Japan. Zoological Sciences, 24(9):883-889.
RL Hong and RJ Sommer (2006). Chemoattraction in Pristionchus Nematodes and Implications for Insect Recognition. Current Biology, 16(23):2359-65.
RL Hong and RJ Sommer (2006). My Favorite Animal: Pristionchus pacificus, a well rounded nematode. Bioessays, 28(6):651-9.
RL Hong, A Villwock, RJ Sommer (2005) Cultivation of the rhabditid Poikilolaimus oxycercus as a Laboratory Nematode for Genetic Analyses. Journal of Experimental Zoology A, Comparative Experimental Biology, 303(9):742-60.