Dr Tungadi obtained her BSc (2008) in Biology and MSc (2009) in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London, UK. It was during her undergraduate project working with Dr Glen Powell at Imperial that she first became acquainted with aphids, which are efficient insect vectors for plant viruses.
Dr Tungadi joined Prof. John Carr’s lab in Plant Virology at the University of Cambridge in 2010 where she obtained her PhD (2014) and completed two postdoctoral projects (2015-2019). During her PhD, she discovered that infection of Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) in Arabidopsis deters aphids from feeding due to an increased accumulation of an aphid-deterrent plant secondary metabolite, glucosinolate, and this relies partly on the pattern-triggered immunity factor, BAK1 at the cell surface and jasmonic acid-dependent plant defence signalling pathway (Westwood et al., 2013; Tungadi et al., 2021). In contrast, CMV infection in tobacco enhanced aphid reproduction but did not influence aphid settling preferences (Ziebell et al., 2011; Tungadi et al., 2017, 2019).
After her PhD, Dr Tungadi remained in the Carr Lab where she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in two projects, working with research partners in Kenya and in the UK to study whether planting different mixes of bean varieties affect virus transmission in the field.
In 2019, Dr Tungadi moved to NIAB, a plant science research institute in the UK, to join Dr Michelle Fountain’s research group in Entomology. She discovered that the presence of live Drosophila melanogaster larvae strongly inhibited egg-laying by Drosophila suzukii, a major invasive insect pest in the soft and stone fruit industry worldwide (Tungadi et al., 2022).
In September 2022, Dr Tungadi joined Keele University as Lecturer in Plant Health. Her research aims to study plant responses to viral pathogens and insect pests by utilising a wide range of techniques in molecular biology, chemical ecology, and entomology. The complexity to manage plant disease in the field inspired her to study plant-virus-vector interaction at the landscape level, and to utilise the knowledge gained to better inform agricultural practices.
Professional membership and invited positions :
- 2022-present: Frontiers in Horticulture, review editor
- 2022-present: Annals in Applied Biology, guest editor
- 2014-present: Biochemical Society, member
- 2019-present: Royal Entomological Society, member
- 2010-present: British Society for Plant Pathology, Board member
- 2010-present: Association of Applied Biologist, Plant Virology steering group member