Name: Michel Cusson
Field of Expertise: Biotechnology/Bioproducts and Entomology
Education: Ph.D. in Biology, Université Laval
Works at: Natural Resources Canada’s Laurentian Forestry Centre in Quebec, QC
What he studies
Dr. Cusson examines forest insect pest physiology, biochemistry and hormones, using modern biotechnology and genomics tools. He identifies and studies genes unique to an insect or small group of insects (e.g. the spruce budworm and the brown spruce longhorn beetle).
What is the importance of his research?
Studying insect genomics helps to identify genes and proteins that contribute to an insect’s success in its environment (e.g. reproductive success, overwinter survival rates). This knowledge may then be harnessed for the development or improvement of pest-control products that have a reduced impact on non-target species, including humans. Similarly, genomic tools can be used to increase knowledge which helps improve pest management decision support systems.
Work is underway to decrypt the genome of the spruce budworm, the most serious forest pest in Canada. By comparing the budworm genome to that of other insects, it will be possible to identify genes responsible for its ability to survive Canadian winters and exploit them for pest management purposes.
Current research projects
Genomics of defoliating insects, genomics of virus infecting Choristoneura budworms, disruption of lepidopteran development by polydnaviruses, enzymes of the juvenile hormone biosynthetic pathway (hormone which controls insects’ development and reproduction).
Nisole A, Stewart D, Bowman S, Zhang D, Krell JP, Doucet D, Cusson M (2010) Cloning and characterization of a Gasp homolog from the spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana, and its putative role in cuticle formation. Journal of Insect Physiology 56, 1427-1435.
Cusson M (2008) The molecular biology tool box and its use in basic and applied insect science. BioScience 58, 691-700.
Cusson M, Béliveau C, Sen SE, Vandermoten S, Rutledge RJ, Stewart D, Francis F, Haubruge É, Rehse P, Huggins DJ, Dowling APG, Grant GH (2006) Characterization and tissue-specific expression of two lepidopteran farnesyl diphosphate synthase homologs: implications for the biosynthesis of ethyl-substituted juvenile hormones. Proteins 65, 742-758.
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