Dr Leon Hugo – Research Officer
Understanding mosquito ageing and survival is an important factor in the epidemiology of mosquito-borne disease. Most mosquito-borne pathogens require considerable time to develop inside the mosquito before transmission can occur and therefore it is the oldest mosquitoes that are largely responsible for disease transmission. However, few reliable data exists on the survival characteristics of wild mosquito populations due to inadequacies of standard mosquito age prediction methods. Leon and his group are investigating age related molecular and biochemical changes in mosquitoes including changing transcriptional and protein expression signatures. In collaboration with the University of Queensland, they have developed and validated an age grading method based on changing gene transcription profiles in Aedes aegypti measured using quantitative reverse-transcription PCR. Using this approach, they are investigating seasonal changes to Ae. aegypti population age structure in central Vietnam as part of the “Eliminate dengue” Grand Challenge project. By applying modern proteomic strategies including Differential In-gel Electrophoresis, iTRAQ labeling and mass spectrometry they have identified several age related changes and are characterising these as candidate age biomarkers. This work is guiding the development of a new age grading assay and may inform broader questions on ageing in other organisms.