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Disrupting insect reproduction as a strategy for controlling mosquitoes and other insect pests

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Prof R E Isaac  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

There is urgent need for new strategies to control insect pests that transmit parasitic diseases and those that devour crops. Climate change will result in the geographical movement of pests, adding to the existing problems and uncertainties of disease vector control and securing global food production. Combating these threats relies heavily on chemical pesticides as components of integrated pest management programmes. However, insect pests (e.g. mosquitoes) are rapidly developing resistance to current controls and many chemicals are now known to damage the environment by killing non-target animals and by contaminating water supplies.
Our research group is interested in understanding the biological mechanisms that underpin successful reproduction in major insect pest species, especially mosquito vectors of diseases such as malaria and dengue, but also agricultural pests, such as Drosophila suzukii. These insights into the regulation of insect reproduction will form the basis for developing new control strategies.
This research project will focus on identifying regulatory peptides, their receptors and other bioactive molecules in the reproductive tissues of either the mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti ) or the agricultural pests (Ceratitis capitata and Drosophila suzukii). The student will also investigate how the central nervous system integrates sensory information (mating status, social environment, food availability etc.) with reproductive behaviours.
The student will be trained in: immunocytochemical staining of insect tissues, gene expression using in situ hybridisation, mass spectrometry and sequence analysis of peptides, RNAi, video recording of insect behaviour as well as insect culture.
The project will be closely aligned with two EU-funded and one DEFRA-funded research projects and will be a collaboration with Dr Neil Audsley of the Food and Environment Research Agency at Sand Hutton, York.

Funding Notes

For more information and how to apply, please contact [Email Address Removed]


Naccarati C; Audsley N; Keen JN; Kim JH; Howell GJ; Kim YJ; Isaac RE The host-seeking inhibitory peptide, Aea-HP-1, is made in the male accessory gland and transferred to the female during copulation. Peptides 34 150-157, 20123.
Kim YJ; Bartalska K; Audsley N; Yamanaka N; Yapici N; Lee JY; Kim YC; Markovic M; Isaac E; Tanaka Y; Dickson BJ MIPs are ancestral ligands for the sex peptide receptor P NATL ACAD SCI USA 107 6520-6525, 2010
Nachman RJ, Mahdian K, Nassel DR, Isaac RE, Pryor N, Smagghe G. 2011. Biostable multi-Aib analogs of tachykinin-related peptides demonstrate potent oral aphicidal activity in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Hemiptera: Aphidae), Peptides, 32, 587.
Zubrzak P, Williams H, Coast GM, Isaac RE, Reyes-Rangel G, Juaristi E, Zabrocki J. 2007. Beta-amino acid analogs of an insect neuropeptide feature potent bioactivity and resistance to peptidase hydrolysis, Biopolymers, 88, 76.
5. Down RE, Matthews HJ, Audsley N. 2010. Effects of Manduca sexta allatostatin and an analog on the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Hemiptera: Aphididae) and degradation by enzymes from the aphid gut. Peptides 31, 489-497.
6. Down RE, Matthews HJ, Audsley N. Oral activity of FMRFamide-related peptides on the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Hemiptera: Aphididae) and degradation by enzymes from the aphid gut. Regulatory peptides.

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