My name is Luis Hernández Pelegrín, and thanks to the INSECT DOCTORS program I have been studying covert viral infections for the last two years… Oh wait! Two years already!!
During this time, I have tried to expand my knowledge in different areas by learning from the people I have found first in the Biotechnological Control of Pest group in Valencia (CBP – BIOTECHNOLOGICAL CONTROL OF PESTS (uv.es)) and now in the Laboratory of Virology in Wageningen (Research of the Laboratory of Virology - WUR). In Valencia, I developed my bioinformatic skills to find several new viruses covertly infecting the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly), I did my first qPCR to identify these viruses in different samples (I must have done near hundred now), and I performed Next-generation sequencing to identify the small RNAs derived from the covert viruses and characterize the antiviral immune response. We obtained interesting results that have been recently summarized in a scientific publication (https://doi.org/10.3390/v14030623).
During this period, I have learnt to rear medfly and perform bioassays too. For instance, we are trying to reduce viral abundance by applying different chemicals, and biological treatments; with the final aim of eliminating the virus and better understanding the role of covert infections in the flies. In this respect, I would like to thank our collaborators at the Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias and the company TRAGSA for their help with the rearing, for providing us with infinite biological samples and for inviting us to their rearing facilities (See my photo with my colleague Fang Shiang Lim, ESR10!). After the visit I understood that the thousand eggs they give me for my experiments is nothing compared to the number of flies they rear for the application of Sterile Insect Technique in the region of Valencia.
Now it is being a month since I arrived to Wageningen. My main aim here will be to apply fluorescence in situ hybridization to unravel the tissue tropism of covert infections, but I am sure new avenues will be opened. New hypotheses are waiting to be confirmed and new techniques are waiting to be learnt and this only means one thing: EXCITING EXPERIMENTS ARE COMING!!
Don´t hesitate to contact me (twitter: @luis_her_pel) if you want to know more about my experiments, or about me! Thanks for reading, Luis.
PhD candidates Luis and Lim conducting research