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The Role of Resource Allocation in Shaping Mosquito-Borne Disease Risk


   Department of Life Sciences

  ,  Friday, January 06, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This Project is a collaboration between the Cator and Pawar labs at the Silwood Park Campus of Imperial College London.

Life can be hard. Food can be scarce. Temperatures can fluctuate. Pathogens can attack. Life history theory suggests that organisms should weather these assaults by altering investment between maintenance, growth, and reproduction, to maximise fitness under a given set of conditions. However, in most cases, we lack a mechanistic understanding of what underpins these trade-offs. This PhD will explore how one group of animals, mosquitoes, alter resource allocation and life history traits to deal with their difficult lives by optimising how they allocate their finite resources between maintenance, growth and reproduction. The overall aim will be to understand how changes in resource allocation underpins life history traits and how these come together to shape both mosquito fitness and their ability to transmit diseases. Some key questions that may be addressed:

1. How does the allocation of resources vary across temperatures and with immune challenge? Does this vary with initial resource availability?

2. Do patterns in resource allocation explain differences in life history traits? Can resource distribution between tissues be used to predict life history traits or key behavioural responses?

3. How do these changes in life history traits affect population growth and vectorial capacity of mosquitoes?

The student will undertake a series of experiments working with a mosquito species native to the UK and a potential invasive species. They will combine UK-based field work and laboratory experiments with mathematical modelling to develop a mechanistic understanding of how the responses of individual life history traits, and resource allocation mediated trade-offs between them, combine to affect fitness and transmission potential. Through the project we hope to gain insights into how mosquito populations will respond to a rapidly changing environment. Project outputs could be used to inform mechanistic forecasts, understand invasion biology, and identify new biomarkers for mosquito borne disease risk in the UK and worldwide.

The student will be a part of the SSCP DTP.


Funding Notes


References

* https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2020.00189/full
* https://www.nature.com/articles/s42003-022-03030-7
* https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2020.3217

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