Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Michael E. Scharf

Michael E.  Scharf Profile Picture

Associate Professor and O.W. Rollins / Orkin Chair
PhD - Purdue University (1997

Contact Info:

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Current Research Interests:

My research interests have centered around insect enzymology since I began as a graduate student 20 years ago. I was trained in entomology and classical biochemistry but have recently been heavily involved in genomics and transcriptomics research. My laboratory's current focus in on "reverse genetics" research in the areas of enzyme-based digestion, detoxification and endocrine function. We are focusing on insecticide resistance in cockroaches and lignocellulose digestion and caste differentiation in termites. These focus areas are building on recent transcriptomics and gene ID efforts by conducting functional / translational research using RNAi and recombinant enzymes. Our approach, using techniques from the pre- and post-genomics eras, allows us to link genes to biology through expression knockdown (RNAi) and characterization of recombinant enzyme activity. Using these two very different approaches to independently verify enzyme action has proven to be a robust scientific approach, as well as a highly effective way to teach students how to conduct integrative / systems biology research.

Selected Publications:

Scharf, M.E., Karl, Z.J., Sethi, A., Boucias, D.G. 2011. Multiple levels of synergistic collaboration in termite lignocellulose digestion. PLoS ONE 6(7): e21709.

Tarver M.R., Schmelz, E.A., Scharf, M.E. 2011. Soldier caste influences on candidate primer pheromone levels and juvenile hormone-dependent caste differentiation in workers of the termite Reticulitermes flavipes. Journal of Insect Physiology 57: 771–777.

Schwinghammer, M.A., Zhou, X., Kambhampati, S., Bennett, G.W., Scharf, M.E. 2011. A novel gene from the takeout family involved in termite trail-following behavior. GENE 474: 12-21.

Gondhalekar, A., Song, C., Scharf, M.E. 2011. Development of strategies for monitoring indoxacarb and gel bait susceptibility in the German cockroach. Pest Management Science 67: 262-270.

Coy, M.R., Salem T.Z., Denton J.S., Kovaleva E., Liu Z., Barber D.S., Campbell J.H., Davis D.C., Buchman G.W., Boucias D.G., Scharf M.E. 2010. Phenol-oxidizing laccases from the termite gut. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 40: 723-732.

Scharf, M.E., Kovaleva, E.S., Jadhao, S., Campbell, J.H., Buchman, G.W., Boucias, D.G. 2010. Functional and translational analyses of a beta-glucosidase gene (glycosyl hydrolase family 1) isolated from the gut of the lower termite Reticulitermes flavipes. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 40: 611-620.

Zhou, X., Kovaleva, E.S., Wu-Scharf, D., Campbell, J.H., Buchman, G.W., Boucias, D.G., Scharf, M.E., 2010. Production and characterization of two recombinant beta-1,4-endoglucanases (GHF9) from the termite Reticulitermes flavipes. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 74: 147-162.

Tarver, M.R., Zhou, X., Scharf, M.E. 2010. Socio-environmental and endocrine influences on developmental and caste-regulatory gene expression in the eusocial termite Reticulitermes flavipes. BMC Molecular Biology 11: 28.

Zhou, X., M.M. Wheeler, F.M. Oi and M.E. Scharf. 2008. RNA interference in the termite R. flavipes through ingestion of double-stranded RNA. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 38: 805-815.

Zhou, X., C. Song, T.L. Grzymala, F.M. Oi and M.E. Scharf. 2006. Juvenile hormone and colony conditions differentially influence cytochrome P450 gene expression in the termite Reticulitermes flavipes. Insect Molecular Biology 15 (6): 749-761.

Zhou, X., F.M. Oi and M.E. Scharf. 2006. Social exploitation of hexamerin: RNAi reveals a major caste-regulatory factor in termites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103 (12): 4499-4504.

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