Geoffrey Attardo

Geoffrey Attardo

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Department of Entomology and Nematology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Briggs Hall, Room 37 B

Profile Introduction

Arthropod vectored diseases cause more than 1 billion cases of illness and over 1 million deaths in humans each year. My work centers on understanding the reproductive biology of insect vectors of human disease. The goal of this work is to develop a detailed understanding of the molecular biology and physiology of these insects and to exploit this information to control these insects and the diseases they transmit. I use molecular biology and biochemical techniques in my research to address these questions. I also incorporate new technologies such as high throughput DNA sequencing and metabolomics which expand beyond the capabilities of traditional molecular techniques to understand the biology of these organisms at a systems level.

Research Interests

Insect Vector Biology, Reproductive Biology, Nutritional Regulation and Metabolism, Symbiosis, Transcriptional Regulation, Genomics,
  • Study of lipid metabolism during tsetse pregnancy and the role that symbiotic bacteria play in this process
  • Understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate the expression of genes coding for milk proteins during the lactation cycle
  • Understanding the physiology behind mating effects on female tsetse flies and the role of male seminal secretions on female fertility
  • Comparative genomic analysis of different tsetse species to identify factors associated with vectorial capacity
  • Understanding the nutritional and metabolic impact of trypanosome infection on female tsetse flies and their reproduction
  • Development of new non-invasive detection techniques to measure changing physiological states and determine trypanosome infection in flies using hyperspectral imaging

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Specialties / Focus

  • Biochemistry
  • Developmental Biology
  • Gene Regulation
  • Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Reproductive Biology
  • Signal Transduction


  • ENT 153 Medical Entomology, Winter

Honors and Awards

  • Winner of the 2010 Fogarty Grantee Photo contest
  • NIH/Ruth Kirschstein Postdoctoral Training Fellowship (2006)

    Professional Societies

    • Entomological Society of America
    • American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene


    • 1994 Bachelor of Science (BS) Entomology University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    • 2004 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Genetics Michigan State University


    Bing X, Attardo GM, Vigneron A, Aksoy E, Scolari F, Malacrida A, Weiss BL, Aksoy S. Unravelling the relationship between the tsetse fly and its obligate symbiont Wigglesworthia: transcriptomic and metabolomic landscapes reveal highly integrated physiological networks. Proceedings Biological sciences / The Royal Society. 2017;284(1857). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0360. PubMed PMID: 28659447; PMCID: PMC5489720.

    Scolari F., Benoit J.B., Michalkova V., Aksoy E., Takac P., Abd-Alla A.M., Malacrida A.R., Aksoy S., Attardo G.M. (2016). The Spermatophore in Glossina morsitans morsitans: Insights into Male Contributions to Reproduction. Scientific reports. 2016;6:20334. PubMed PMID: 26847001.

    Rio RV, Attardo G.M., Weiss BL. Grandeur Alliances: Symbiont Metabolic Integration and Obligate Arthropod Hematophagy. Trends Parasitol. 2016. doi: 10.1016/ PubMed PMID: 27236581.

    Benoit J, Michalkova V, Szuter E, Medlock J, Baumann A, Attardo G., Aksoy S, editors. Rapid autophagic involution of the tsetse fly milk gland is critical to the efficiency of lactation and population growth. Integr Comp Biol; 2016: OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC JOURNALS DEPT, 2001 EVANS RD, CARY, NC 27513 USA.

    Benoit JB, Adelman ZN, Reinhardt K, Dolan A, Poelchau M, Jennings EC, Szuter EM, Hagan RW, Gujar H, Shukla JN, Zhu F, Mohan M, Nelson DR, Rosendale AJ, Derst C, Resnik V, Wernig S, Menegazzi P, Wegener C, Peschel N, Hendershot JM, Blenau W, Predel R, Johnston PR, Ioannidis P, Waterhouse RM, Nauen R, Schorn C, Ott MC, Maiwald F, Johnston JS, Gondhalekar AD, Scharf ME, Peterson BF, Raje KR, Hottel BA, Armisen D, Crumiere AJ, Refki PN, Santos ME, Sghaier E, Viala S, Khila A, Ahn SJ, Childers C, Lee CY, Lin H, Hughes DS, Duncan EJ, Murali SC, Qu J, Dugan S, Lee SL, Chao H, Dinh H, Han Y, Doddapaneni H, Worley KC, Muzny DM, Wheeler D, Panfilio KA, Vargas Jentzsch IM, Vargo EL, Booth W, Friedrich M, Weirauch MT, Anderson MA, Jones JW, Mittapalli O, Zhao C, Zhou JJ, Evans JD, Attardo GM, Robertson HM, Zdobnov EM, Ribeiro JM, Gibbs RA, Werren JH, Palli SR, Schal C, Richards S. (2016). Unique features of a global human ectoparasite identified through sequencing of the bed bug genome. Nature communications. 2016;7:10165. PubMed PMID: 26836814; PMCID: PMC4740739.

    Benoit J.B., Attardo G.M., Baumann A.A., Michalkova V., Aksoy S. Adenotrophic viviparity in tsetse flies: potential for population control and as an insect model for lactation. Annu Rev Entomol. 2015;60:351-71. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-010814-020834. PubMed PMID: 25341093; PMCID: PMC4453834.

    Shaw WR, Attardo G.M., Aksoy S, Catteruccia F. A comparative analysis of reproductive biology of insect vectors of human disease. Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2015;10(0):142-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2015.05.001. PubMed PMID: 26140265; PMCID: PMC4484812.

    Benoit JB, Attardo GM, Baumann AA, Michalkova V, Aksoy S. (2015) Adenotrophic Viviparity in Tsetse Flys: Potentials for Population Control and as an Insect Model of Lactation. Annu Rev Entomol. 60(1) doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-010814-020834. PubMed PMID: 25341093.

    Mwangi S, Attardo G, Suzuki Y, Aksoy S, Christoffels A. (2015) TSS seq based core promoter architecture in blood feeding Tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans) vector of Trypanosomiasis. BMC Genomics. 16(1):722. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-1921-6. PubMed PMID: 26394619; PMCID: 4578606.

    Shaw WR, Attardo GM, Aksoy S, Catteruccia F. (2015) A comparative analysis of reproductive biology of insect vectors of human disease. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 10(0):142-8. PMID: 26140265 PMCID: PMC4484812 doi:

    Aksoy S, Weiss BL, Attardo G.MTrypanosome Transmission Dynamics in Tsetse. Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2014;3:43-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2014.07.003. PubMed PMID: 25580379; PMCID: PMC4286356.

    International Glossina Genome Initative (Lead Author: Attardo, G.M.). 2014. Genome sequence of the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans): vector of African trypanosomiasis. Science 344(6182):380-6. PMID: 24763584

    Benoit, J.B., Attardo, G.M., Michalkova, V., Krause, T.B., Bohova, J., Zhang, Q., Baumann, A.A., Mireji, P.O., Takáč P., Denlinger D.L., Ribeiro, J.M., Aksoy, S. 2014. A Novel Highly Divergent Protein Family Identified from a Viviparous Insect by RNA-seq Analysis: A Potential Target for Tsetse Fly-Specific Abortifacients. PLoS Genet 10(4): e1003874. PMCID: PMC3998918

    Attardo, G.M., Benoit, J.B., Michalkova, V., Patrick, K.R., Krause, T.B., Aksoy, S. 2014. The Homeodomain Protein Ladybird Late Regulates Synthesis of Milk Proteins during Pregnancy in the Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 8(4): e2645. PMCID: PMC3998940

    Aksoy, S., Attardo, G., Berriman, M., Christoffels, A., Lehane, M., Masiga, D., Toure, Y. 2014. Human african trypanosomiasis research gets a boost: unraveling the tsetse genome. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 8(4): e2624. PMCID: PMC3998789

    Michalkova, V., Benoit, J.B., Attardo, G.M., Medlock, J., Aksoy, S. 2014. Amelioration of reproduction-associated oxidative stress in a viviparous insect is critical to prevent reproductive senescence. PLoS One 9(4):e87554. PMCID: PMC3998933

    Aksoy S., Weiss, B.L., Attardo, G.M. (2014) Trypanosome transmission dynamics in tsetse. Curr. Opin. Insect Sci., Available online 5 August 2014, ISSN 2214-5745, DOI:10.1016/j.cois.2014.07.003.

    Benoit, J. B., Hansen, I. A., Szuter, E. M., Drake, L. L., Burnett, D. L. and Attardo, G. M. (2014) Emerging roles of aquaporins in relation to the physiology of blood-feeding arthropods. J Comp Physiol B: June 19, 2014. PMID: 24942313. DOI:10.1007/s00360-014-0836-x

    Michalkova, V., Benoit, J. B., Weiss, B. L., Attardo, G. M. and Aksoy, S. 2014. Vitamin B6 generated by obligate symbionts is critical for maintaining proline homeostasis and fecundity in tsetse flies. Appl Environ Microbiol Epub Date: 2014/07/20, ISSN: 0099-2240, DOI: 10.1128/aem.01150-14, PMID: 25038091

    Benoit, J.B., Hansen, I.A., Attardo, G.M., Michalkova, V., Mireji, P.O., Bargul, J.L., Drake, L.L., Masiga D.K., Aksoy, S. 2014. Aquaporins Are Critical for Provision of Water during Lactation and Intrauterine Progeny Hydration to Maintain Tsetse Fly Reproductive Success. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 8(4): e2517. PMCID: PMC3998938

    Hansen I.A., Attardo G.M., Rodriguez S.D., Drake L.L. (2014) Four-way regulation of mosquito yolk protein precursor genes by juvenile hormone-, ecdysone-, nutrient-, and insulin-like peptide signaling pathways. Front Physiol 5: 103. PMCID: PMC3960487

    Baumann, A.A., Benoit, J.B., Michalkova, V., Mireji, P.O., Attardo, G.M., Moulton, J.K., Wilson, T.G., Aksoy, S. 2013. Juvenile hormone and insulin suppress lipolysis between periods of lactation during tsetse fly pregnancy. Mol Cell Endocrinol 372(1-2):30-41. PMID: 23499946

    Benoit J.B., Attardo G.M., Michalkova V., Takac P., Bohova J., 2012. Aksoy S. Sphingomyelinase Activity in Mother's Milk Is Essential for Juvenile Development: A Case from Lactating Tsetse Flies. Biol Reprod. 87(1):17. PMCID: PMC3406556

    Attardo, G.M., Benoit, J.B., Michalkova, V., Yang, G., Roller, L., Bohova, J., Takáč, P., Aksoy, S. 2012. Analysis of lipolysis underlying lactation in the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 42(5):360-70. PMCID: PMC3561780

    Hansen, I.A., Boudko, D.Y., Shiao, S.H., Voronov, D.A., Meleshkevitch, E.A., Drake, L.L., Aguirre, S.E., Fox, J.M., Attardo, G.M., Raikhel, A.S., 2011. AaCAT1 of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti: a novel histidine-specific amino acid transporter from the SLC7 family. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286, 10803-10813. PMCID: 3060531

    Benoit J.B., Yang G., Krause T.B., Patrick K.R., Aksoy S., Attardo, G.M., 2011. Lipophorin acts as a shuttle of lipids to the milk gland during tsetse fly pregnancy. J Insect Physiol. 57, (11), 1553-1561. PMCID: 3209505.

    Bonomi, A., Bassetti, F., Gabrieli, P., Beadell, J., Falchetto, M., Scolari, F., Gomulski, L.M., Regazzini, E., Ouma, J.O., Caccone, A., Okedi, L.M., Attardo, G.M., Guglielmino, C.R., Aksoy, S., Malacrida, A.R., 2011. Polyandry is a common event in wild populations of the Tsetse fly Glossina fuscipes fuscipes and may impact population reduction measures. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 5, e1190. PMCID: 3110164

    Yang, G., Attardo, G.M., Lohs, C., and Aksoy, S., 2010. Molecular characterization of two novel milk proteins in the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans). Insect Mol. Biol. 19(2), 253-262. PMCID: 2862765

    Attardo, G.M., Ribeiro, J.M.C., Wu, Y, Berriman, M., Aksoy, S., 2010. Transcriptome analysis of reproductive tissue and intrauterine developmental stages of the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans). BMC Genomics 11(1), 160. PMCID: 2846916

    Alves-Silva, J., Ribeiro, J.M., Van Den Abbeele, J., Attardo, G., Hao, Z., Haines, L.R., Soares, M.B., Berriman, M., Aksoy, S. and Lehane, M.J., 2010. An insight into the sialome of Glossina morsitans morsitans. BMC Genomics 11, 213. PMCID: 2853526

    Weiss, B.L., Attardo, G.M., and Aksoy, S. 2009. Insect-Protozoa-Bacteria Associations: a Model System for Investigating Host-Parasite Interactions. In: Molecular Approaches and Techniques in Insect Pathology, eds. Stock, P., Boemare, N., Glazer, I., Vanderberg, J., CABI publishing, Cambridge, MA.

    Attardo, G.M., Lohs, C., Heddi, A., Alam, U.H., Yildirim, S. and Aksoy, S., 2008. Analysis of milk gland structure and function in Glossina morsitans: Milk protein production, symbiont populations and fecundity. J Insect Physiol 54, 1236-42. PMCID: 2613686

    Hu, C., Rio, R. V. M., Medlock, J., Haines, L. R., Nayduch, D., Savage, A. F., Guz, N., Attardo, G. M., Pearson, T. W., Galvani, A. P., and Aksoy, S., 2008. Infections with immunogenic trypanosomes reduce tsetse reproductive fitness: Potential impact of different parasite strains on vector population structure. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2(3), e192. PMCID: 2265429

    Aksoy S, Brian, W and Attardo, G.M., 2008. Paratransgenesis applied for control of tsetse transmitted Sleeping Sickness. Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. 627, 35-48. PMID: 18510012

    Guz, N., Attardo, G.M., Wu, Y., and Aksoy, S., 2007. Molecular aspects of transferrin expression in the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans). J.Insect Physiol 53, 715-723. PMCID: 2065764

    Weiss, B.L., Attardo, G.M., Pais, R., Wang, J., and Aksoy, S. 2007. Novel strategies targeting pathogen transmission reduction in insect vectors: Tsetse-transmitted trypanosomiasis control (invited review). Entomological Research 37: 231-237

    Attardo, G.M., Strickler-Dinglasan, P., Perkin, S.A., Caler, E., Bonaldo, M.F., Soares, M.B., El-Sayeed, N., and Aksoy, S., 2006. Analysis of fat body transcriptome from the adult tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans morsitans. Insect Mol.Biol. 15, 411-424. PMID: 16907828.

    Attardo, G.M., Hansen, I.A., Shiao, S.H., and Raikhel, A.S., 2006. Identification of two cationic amino acid transporters required for nutritional signaling during mosquito reproduction. J.Exp.Biol. 209, 3071-3078. PMID:16888056

    Strickler-Dinglasan, P.M., Guz, N., Attardo, G.M., and Aksoy, S., 2006. Molecular characterization of iron binding proteins from Glossina morsitans morsitans (Diptera: Glossinidae). Insect Biochem.Mol.Biol. 36, 921-933. PMCID: 1698469

    Park, J.H., Attardo, G.M., Hansen, I.A., and Raikhel, A.S., 2006. GATA factor translation is the final downstream step in the amino acid/target-of-rapamycin-mediated vitellogenin gene expression in the anautogenous mosquito Aedes aegypti. J.Biol.Chem. 281, 11167-11176. PMID:16490782

    Hansen, I.A., Attardo, G.M., Roy, S.G., and Raikhel, A.S., 2005. Target of rapamycin-dependent activation of S6 kinase is a central step in the transduction of nutritional signals during egg development in a mosquito. J.Biol.Chem. 280, 20565-20572. PMID: 15788394.

    Attardo, G.M., Hansen, I.A., and Raikhel, A.S., 2005. Nutritional regulation of vitellogenesis in mosquitoes: implications for anautogeny. Insect Biochem.Mol.Biol. 35, 661-675. PMID:15894184

    Attardo, G.M., Hansen, I.A., and Raikhel, A.S., 2005 Nutritional regulation of vitellogenesis in mosquitoes: implications for anautogeny. Insect Biochem. Mol Biol. 35(7):661-75.

    Hansen, I.A., Attardo, G.M., Park, J.H., Peng, Q., and Raikhel, A.S., 2004. Target of rapamycin-mediated amino acid signaling in mosquito anautogeny. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A 101, 10626-10631. PMCID: PMC489984

    Martin, D., Attardo, G.M., Hansen, I.A., and Raikhel, A.S. Molecular Mechanisms of Tissue-Specific Gene Expression In Insects. In: Reproductive Biology of Invertebrates Vol. XII, Part B. Recent Progress in Vitellogenesis, A. Raikhel, (Ed.) John Wiley & Sons Ltd, West Sussex UK

    Attardo, G.M., Higgs, S., Klingler, K.A., Vanlandingham, D.L., and Raikhel, A.S., 2003. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of a GATA factor reveals a link to anautogeny in the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A 100, 13374-13379. PMCID: PMC263821

    Raikhel, A.S., Kokoza, V.A., Zhu, J., Martin, D., Wang, S.F., Li, C., Sun, G., Ahmed, A., Dittmer, N., and Attardo, G.M., 2002. Molecular biology of mosquito vitellogenesis: from basic studies to genetic engineering of antipathogen immunity. Insect Biochem.Mol.Biol. 32, 1275-1286. PMID: 12225918.

    Costero, A., Attardo, G.M., Scott, T.W., and Edman, J.D., 1998. An experimental study on the detection of fructose in Aedes aegypti. J.Am.Mosq.Control Assoc. 14, 234-242. PMID: 9813818.​​​​​​​