Michel Cusson

Research Scientist

Insect Physiology and Biochemistry

Current research and/or projects


I developed an interest for entomology during my tenure as a biology student (BSc) at the University of Sherbrooke, QC. My decision to undertake graduate work in this field was very much influenced by my encounter with Prof. Jeremy McNeil, who was invited to give a lecture at our department in Sherbrooke. I subsequently worked for him as a summer field assistant and later became a member of his large PhD student cohort at Laval University. By the end of my stay in his lab, I had gone from being an insect ecologist/pest management practitioner to becoming an insect physiologist. Then, I further specialized in the field of insect endocrinology at the University of Toronto as a postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Prof. Steve Tobe. Since taking on my research position at the CFS, in 1991, I’ve remained active in the area of insect hormone research, but I’ve expanded the breadth of my research activities to include insect virology, biochemistry, molecular biology and genomics, with the latter having recently become the main focus of my group, given its high potential for practical applications in forest pest management.

Research activities:

  • Study of forest insect pests and their natural enemies, particularly their genes and the proteins they encode.
  • Identify genes that constitute a strong link (natural enemies) or a weak link (insect pests) and may be used or targeted, respectively, in the development of pest control tools and strategies.

Whether indigenous or exotic, insect pests continually create new challenges in terms of forest protection, and so it is appropriate to assess the potential of genomics and biotechnologies as tools for developing effective, acceptable, environmentally friendly solutions to the various problems caused by harmful insects.


Professional activities / interests

  • Review of scientific texts and grant applications.
  • Professional advice.
  • Supervision of graduate and postdoctoral fellows and professional staff.
  • Guest and Speaker at multiple conferences.
  • Member of the Polydnavirus Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
  • Collaboration at the CFS: Genomics of emerald ash borer (collaboration in a project led by Daniel Doucet); Viruses of budworms of the genus Choristoneura (collaboration in a project led by Christopher Lucarotti).

Education and awards


B.Sc. in Biology, Université de Sherbrooke, 1981.

Master’s degree in pest management, Simon Fraser University, 1985.

Ph.D. in Biology, Université Laval, 1989.

Postdoctoral training, University of Toronto, 1989-1991.


Canadian Forest Service recognition award for exceptional leadership, 2015.

Léon-Provancher, Société d'entomologie du Québec, 1997.

NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1989.

Melville-Duporte, Société d'entomologie du Québec, 1987.

G.R.E.A.T. Award, Science Council of British Columbia, 1984.

Key publications

  1. Duan, J.; Quan, G.; Mittapalli, O.; Cusson, M.; Krell, P.J.; Doucet, D. 2016. The complete metagenome of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Agrilus planippenis (Insecta: Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Mitochondrial DNA Resources, in press.
  2. Landry, M.; Comeau, A.M.; Derome, N.; Cusson, M.; Levesque, R.C. . 2015. Composition of the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) midgut microbiota as affected by rearing conditions. PLoS ONE 10:e0144077. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144077.
  3. Duan, J.; Ladd, T.; Doucet, D.; Cusson, M.; van Frankenhuyzen, K.; Mittapalli, O.; Krell, P.J.; Quan, G. 2015. Transcriptome analysis of the emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis: de novo assembly, functional annotation and comparative analysis. PLoS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134824.
  4. Béliveau, C.; Cohen, A.; Stewart, D.; Périquet, G.; Djoumad, A.; Kuhn, L.; Stoltz, D.; Boyle, B.; Volkoff, A.N.; Herniou, H.; Drezen, J.-M.; Cusson, M. . 2015. Genomic and proteomic analyses indicate that banchine and campoplegine polydnaviruses have similar, if not identical, viral ancestors. J. Virol. 89:8909-8921. doi:10.1128/JVI.01001-15.
  5. Sen, S.E.; Wood, L.; Jacob, R.; Xhambazi, A.; Pease, B.; Jones, A.; Horsfield, T.; Lin, A.; Cusson, M. 2015. Disruption of insect isoprenoid biosynthesis with pyridinium bisphosphonates. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 63:113-123. doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2015.05.006.

For more publications by this author, consult the CFS publications database.