PhD (University of Adelaide)
Position: Associate Professor

Room: 376 Goddard Building 8
Phone: +61 7 3365 2043


Research Interests

In this laboratory, we are investigating the evolutionary adaptations employed by parasites, pathogens and their host insects that play important roles in their interactions. Our focus is on:

  • Investigating the role of small RNA molecules (microRNAs) in insect biology and host pathogen interactions. microRNAs are ~22 nucleotide noncoding RNA molecules that are expressed by all metazoans and viruses playing significant roles in a variety of biological processes, such as development, immunity, longevity, and viral infections. We also explore the role of virus encoded microRNAs in replication, pathogenesis and manipulation of host gene expression machinery. We use a variety of host-pathogen systems, including Dengue virus, West Nile virus, baculovirus, Wolbachia and different mosquitoes.

  • Understanding mechanisms evolved by parasitic wasps to manipulate host physiology; including immunity and development. These mechanisms involve injection of ovarian and venom fluids and endosymbiotic virus-like entities (eg. polydnaviruses) into the host during parasitisation which interfere with a variety of physiological pathways. Exploration of these factors has led us to characterize key molecules that interfere with insect cellular and humoral immune components.

Selected Publications

Zhang, G., Hussain, M., O’Neill, S.L. & Asgari, S. (2013). Wolbachia uses a host microRNA to regulate transcripts of a methyltransferase contributing to dengue virus inhibition in Aedes aegypti. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110: 10276-10281.

Asgari, S. (2013). MicroRNA functions in insects. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 43: 388-397.

Hussain, M., Lu, G., Torres, S., Edmonds, J.H., Kay, B.H., Khromykh, A.A. & Asgari, S. (2013). Effect of Wolbachia on replication of West Nile Virus in mosquito cell line and adult mosquitoes. Journal of Virology 87: 851-858.

Hussan, M., Torres, S., Schnettler, E., Funk, A., Grundhoff, A., Pijlman, G.P., Khromykh, A.A. & Asgari, S. (2012). West Nile virus encodes a microRNA-like small RNA in the 3’ untranslated region which upregulates GATA4 mRNA and facilitates virus replication in mosquito cells. Nucleic Acids Research 40: 2210-2223.

Hussain, M., Frentiua, F.D., Moreiraa, L.A. O'Neill, S.L. & Asgari, S. (2011). Wolbachia uses host microRNAs to manipulate host gene expression and facilitate colonization of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108: 9250-9255,

Professional Associations

  • Society for Invertebrate Pathology

  • American Society for Microbiology

  • Australian Entomological Society

  • Australian Virology Society

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