My study focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying, and driving interactions between belowground (BG) and aboveground (AG) insect herbivores. A multidisciplinary eco-genomics approach including physiological, molecular and biochemical methods is being used to study these interaction between AG-BG plant induced defenses. The study will involve the use of Solanum lycopersicum as a food crop model plant, Root Knot nematodes (RKN) as belowground herbivores, and Spodoptera exigua and Macrosiphum euphorbiae as aboveground herbivores, to; (1) Understand the effects of RKN on aboveground herbivores, (2) to unravel the unique mobile signal traveling from roots to shoot as a result of interaction and (3) to study the effect of RKN on members of the third trophic level.
This project is funded by a personal DAAD PhD grant to CM.
Nematodes, above-belowground interactions, transcripts & metabolites, systemic induced responses, hormonal signaling, Solanum lycoperisicum (Tomato)
2016 – now
Doctoral researcher in Molecular Interaction Ecology at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
2010 - 2015
Master of Science Biotechnology, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
- Thesis: Characterization and development of propagation spawns for selected wild edible Mushrooms from Aberdare National Forest, Kenya.
2004 - 2009
Bachelor of Science Biotechnology, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
- Thesis: Determination of mineral composition in commonly consumed mushrooms in Nairobi, Kenya.
International institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA-ILRI hub), Nairobi, Kenya.
- Project: Development of rapid and robust regeneration and genetic transformation protocols for yams
Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA-ILRI Hub), Nairobi, Kenya.
- Project: Genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationship of Kenyan native edible mushroom species
Onyango BO, Mbaluto CM, Mutuku CS, Otieno DO. 2016. Molecular characterization of wood ear mushrooms [Auricularia sp.] from Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya. Current Research in Environmental & Applied Mycology 6(1), 51 – 60, Doi 10.5943/cream/6/1/6
Mbaluto, C. M., Ahmad, E. M., Fu, M., Martínez-Medina, A., van Dam, N. M.(2020): The impact of Spodoptera exigua herbivory on Meloidogyne incognita induced root responses depends on the nematodes’ life cycle stages. AoB PLANTS (in press) *
Mbaluto, C. M., P. M. Ayelo, A. G. Duffy, A. L. Erdei, A. K. Tallon, S. Xia, G. Caballero-Vidal, U. Spitaler, M. O. Szelényi, G. A. Duarte, W. B. Walker, P. G. Becher(2020): Insect chemical ecology: chemically mediated interactions and novel applications in agriculture. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 14(6) *
Friedrich Schiller University Jena