Frances Blow


I am a PhD student working on host-microbial associations in insects. The main aim of my project is to characterize the relationship between the agricultural pest Bactrocera oleae (the olive fly) and its resident microbes. B. oleae is a key pest of olives, and imposes a significant financial burden upon olive producers worldwide. Recent efforts have been made towards reinvigorating a Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) program for the olive fly as a means of environmentally friendly and species-specific pest control in place of pesticides. As with many insects, the bacteria associated with the olive fly are essential to their fitness, and for this reason knowledge of the microbiota is critical when planning and implementing new control strategies. To this end, I am working in collaboration with SIT specialists Oxitec to improve rearing methods for olive flies destined for their fsRIDL SIT programs through the development of probiotic diets.

My general research interests lie in host-microbe interactions, and particularly in the mechanisms by which bacterial communities are established and maintained within a host.

Twitter @francesblow1