- Suitable for PhD students
The implementation of any mosquito control strategy, whether it involves: 1) insecticides, 2) Wolbachia-mediated strategies for the replacement and suppression of wild-type populations, or 3) the release of GM mosquitoes, can all be optimised using information gleaned from the genetic characterisation of population structure, movement and adaptive traits.
Tracking the dynamic patterns of insecticide resistance markers will help us understand how to implement insecticide rotations and spatial mosaics. Understanding immigration, emigration and dispersal rates will help define optimal spatial and temporal release patterns for Wolbachia-infected or GM mosquitoes. Comparison of genomes from carefully selected field and lab populations may help identify markers for physiological or behavioural adaptations (i.e. insecticide survival, host preference or outdoor-biting behaviour).
The candidate will choose from a range of accessible mosquito models associated with the transmission of arboviruses and malaria (Aedes aegypti, Culex annulirostris, Anopheles farauti). They will make careful, structured collections from the field, potentially combined with additional collections from laboratory assays and “free flight” rooms. They will use next generation, reduced-genome approaches (ddRAD-seq) yielding >25,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms for comparison across populations and individuals. With this approach they will investigate one or more of the following:
1) Spatial and temporal dynamics of kdr alleles and other insecticide resistance markers and their operational impacts on vector control programs.
2) Population dynamics of target mosquitoes with a view to designing optimal strategies for the release of manipulated mosquitoes (Wolbachia or GM).
3) Genetic signatures of behavioural traits that will help describe the vectorial capacity of divergent mosquito populations that differ in biting, resting and host seeking activities.