The Rio Laboratory

Ecosystems are composed of symbiotic networks that often prompt physiological and ecological innovations. An abundant number of roles can be attributed to residential microbial communities including nutritional provisioning and energy balance, the broadening of host food range, increased tolerance towards stress and infections, and dramatic morphogenesis effects particularly towards the development of the immune, vascular, and gastrointestinal systems.
            The Rio laboratory focuses on mechanisms and processes pertinent to the evolution of symbiosis. By merging theoretical predictions with empirical studies and using the naturally simple microbial communities of the medicinal leech and tsetse fly as models, species interactions are examined at various levels of biological organization (i.e. spanning from obligate mutualism to parasitism). We aim to characterize the molecular and ecological cues that interface to drive the specificity, acquisition, progression and persistence of symbiotic systems. This knowledge can be exploited for the advancement of beneficial relations through biotechnological and health practices. In terms of applied biology, the digestive tract symbionts are crucial components of tsetse fly biology and manipulation of these relations also offers a potential avenue for insect vector control, and correspondingly a decrease in African trypanosomiasis prevalence.

Dr. Rio teaches "Evolution of Infectious Diseases" (Fall) and "Microbial Symbiosis" (Spring) at WVU Downtown campus.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
Carl Sagan, 1934-1996

Welcome to the Rio lab

Contact information:

Dr. Rita V.M. Rio

West Virginia University

Eberly College of Arts and Science

Dept. of Biology

53 Campus Dr., 5106 LSB

Morgantown, WV 26506


tel: 304.293.1791

fax: 304.293.6363