Mosquito transmitted infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, and Zika, pose a threat to public health worldwide, causing up to a million deaths and infecting more than a billion people a year. There are no vaccines for most vector-borne diseases. Controlling mosquitoes, therefore, is often the only way to prevent disease. The emergence of insecticide resistance, anti-malaria drug resistance, new mosquito-borne diseases, and growing species ranges due to climate change necessitate the need for continued basic research into mosquito biology and the development of novel control strategies.
I ask questions about the temporal biology of mosquito vectors of human disease at two temporal timescales: The daily 24 hour circadian rhythms of mosquitoes and seasonal scales. I seek to understand and exploit rhythms in mosquitoes, as well as the cues (such as light) that drive these rhythmic behaviors. In the course of seeking the data to answer questions of seasonal rhythms in mosquitoes and working at VectorBase, a large portion of my research now has become the data itself – locating and unlocking data hidden in data silos, data standardization and harmonization, data visualization, and analysis.
Huge amounts of local mosquito trapping is performed across the United States. I want to collate this data to empower ‘Big Data’ for mosquitoes.
MOSQUITO CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS
Mosquitoes adjust their biology dramatically across the 24 hour day. This manifests as rhythms in behaviors, susceptibilities to disease and insecticide, olfactory sensitivity, and more.
Little work has been performed on mosquito larval respiration research since the advent of chemical pesticides. I’m revisiting this.
MALARIA CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS
In collaboration with the Reece Lab at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland, UK), we ask questions on how the malaria parasite keeps time inside the human host, how mosquitoes keep time, and how biological timing drives disease transmission.
Mosquitoes use seasonal cues to adjust their behavior to survive wintertime conditions, I’m studying the mechanisms by which they determine the season and then how they respond.