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Sensory synergies in mosquito host-location behaviour

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  • Full or part time
    Dr F Hawkes
    Dr R Hopkins
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Malaria, which killed nearly half a million people in 2016, is a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. Controlling the insect vector remains the primary method of preventing disease transmission. However, there is a pressing need for new innovations in vector control, as growing evidence suggests existing tools will not be sufficient to eliminate malaria. Many aspects of mosquito behaviour remain unknown, but elucidating these could provide insights that lead to the development of novel and effective interventions against Anopheles vectors, particularly in terms of their behavioural response to a range of human host-associated cues.
This project will further investigate the mechanisms behind the effects of human host-associated cues on mosquito behaviour, with a focus on the primary malaria vector species group Anopheles gambiae sensu lato. There is considerable scope to explore a variety of behavioural phenomena related to host-location, but the student is expected to focus on questions related to the following:
• The relative importance of visual, thermal and olfactory stimuli in mosquito host-location behaviour and potential synergistic effects of combined stimuli;
• The spatial scale over which these host-associated stimuli influence behaviour; and
• Whether variations in the attributes of specific stimuli enhance/inhibit mosquito attraction.
The student may wish to carry out a combination of the following types of experiments:
• Insect behaviour: laboratory based experiments using wind tunnel arenas and 3D flight tracking to quantify responses to specific stimuli.
• Field ecology: Field-based behavioural experiments to examine identified behaviours in situ.
• Novel assay techniques: Development and use of new techniques as required by project discoveries and direction of research, optionally including methods in sensory physiology.

Funding Notes

Bursary available (subject to satisfactory performance):
Year 1: £14,777 Increases in line with RCUK rate
The successful candidate will receive a contribution to tuition fees equivalent to the university’s Home/EU rate, currently £4,260, for the duration of their scholarship. International applicants will need to pay the remainder tuition fee, currently £9,240, for the duration of their scholarship. This fee is subject to an annual increase. Scholarships are available for three years, full-time study, from the date scholars first register as an MPhil/PhD student with the university. Applicants must meet the programme entry requirements.
For additional information please go to: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/research/study/studentships


Hawkes, F. & Gibson, G. (2016) Seeing is believing: the nocturnal malarial mosquito Anopheles coluzzii responds to visual host-cues when odour indicates a host is nearby. Parasites & Vectors, 9:320.

Hawkes, F.M., Dabire, R.K., Sawadogo, S.P., Torr, S.J. & Gibson, G. (2017) Exploiting synergistic effects of human-like thermal, odour and visual stimuli on Anopheles behaviour to improve surveillance and control of malaria. Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 17283.
doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17632-3

How good is research at University of Greenwich in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.50

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