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Trevor Sorrells, PhD

Assistant Professor of Genetics

Contact Information

Trevor Sorrells, PhD

Mailing Address

  • Yale School of Medicine

    PO Box 208005

    New Haven, CT 06520-8005

    United States

Research Summary

Millions of years ago ancient flies evolved the ability to feed on vertebrate blood, becoming mosquitoes that still bite us to this day. This remarkable ability led to the transmission of pathogens through the bite of the mosquito. We study the central brain and other parts of the mosquito that are key to blood feeding behavior. Previously, we introduced optogenetics to the mosquito allowing us to activate neurons using light. We used this to show that mosquitoes search for humans for 10-15 minutes after a brief sensation of human odor, explaining why they are so persistent at biting. Using a range of genomic, optogenetic, imaging, and behavioral approaches, we are identifying specific neurons and genes that are essential to blood feeding and that could be targeted to disrupt this behavior.

We also study how evolution produced the adaptation of blood feeding over twenty times in arthropods. By comparing mosquitoes and other blood feeders with non-biting relatives we seek to understand how biological systems evolve new functions. We use comparative genomics, epigenomics, and transgenics to discover and test specific hypotheses about these evolutionary innovations.

Research Interests

Behavior, Animal; Biological Evolution; Genetics, Behavioral; Neurobiology; Genomics; Gene Regulatory Networks; Optogenetics; Mosquito Vectors

Selected Publications