ANTI-VeC Network Funding Opportunities

ANTI-VeC Network Funding Opportunities

The Network provides an opportunity to stimulate new lines of research and new collaborations, increase interactions in these emerging fields, and share experiences/expertise - from lab techniques to best practice in running field trials and to expand the links between UK scientists and excellent researchers based in disease-endemic countries. 

ANTI-VeC funds several initiatives including:

  • pump-priming grants (up to £100,000)
  • training and knowledge exchange visits between members' groups (up to £10,000)
  • international conference bursaries (up to £2,000)
  • travel bursaries to attend ANTI-VeC meetings (up to £2,000)

OPEN: ANTI-VeC International Conference Bursaries - 6th PAMCA Annual Conference

Grants are available for international conference bursaries of up to £2,000, via competitive application to the Network Executive Committee. 

Our conference bursaries are intended to support attendance at leading international conferences.  Funds are specifically available to support network members presenting work at scientific conferennces.

This specific call is for applications for bursaries to attend the 6th PAMCA Annual Conference, 23-25 September 2019, Yaounde, Cameroon.

 

Timescales

  • Abstract submission deadline to PAMCA: 15th June 2019
  • ANTI-VeC bursary application deadline: 21st July 2019 
  • Notification of funding: by 1st August 2019

 

How to apply

Funding is available to early career ANTI-VeC network members based for work in UK or DAC-list countries.  Applicants must apply to become a network member if not already one.  Membership is open to all those with an interest in the field and the network is free-of-charge to join via the Join us section.

Applications are welcome from:

  • Registered PhD students from DAC-list countries
  • Early career researchers including post-docs and lecturer level staff staff from UK or DAC-list countries

Applicants must also indicate on the application form if they have submitted an abstract for an oral or poster presentation to PAMCA, and include the title and abstract text.

 

Please refer to the DAC list of ODA recipient countries for LMIC eligibility: https://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/daclist.htm 

Please read the Application Guidance document providing further information.  It provides important information on the eligibility of applicants and costs.   

A list of reference documents are provided below for download.

The completed application form should be submitted as a PDF file to anti-vec-network@glasgow.ac.uk


Further information

The following documents  are available to view and download:

ANTI-VeC International Conference Bursary Application Guidance - PAMCA

ANTI-VeC International Conference Bursary Application Form - PAMCA

 

Useful resources

OECD DAC List countries
https://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/daclist.htm 


OPEN: ANTI-VeC Training and Technology/Knowledge Exchange Visits

Grants are available for training and technology/knowledge exchange visits of up to £10,000, via competitive application to the Network Executive Committee. 

The Network aims to encourage Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and career progression amongst its members.  To achieve this, the call is specifically open to registered PhD students from DAC-list countries and early career researchers from the UK or DAC-list countries. 

The purpose of these awards is to support training opportunities and exchanges for the transfer of knowledge and skills in genetic and symbiont vector control strategies and related fields.  The exchanges will be valuable in terms of increasing interaction between members' groups, ensuring complex techniques are widely disseminated, and help increase research capacity by giving researchers a broader outlook and range of skills and experience.

The activities supported under this scheme could include laboratory exchanges between member groups, work shadowing, attendance at courses or workshops.

Training visit awards are expected to last up to 3 months and priority will be given to the following:

  • Visits to acquire new techniques or transfer technologies or knowledge
  • Collaborative visits to and from OECD DAC list countries

Visits should be concluded by 30 June 2020, to allow time for reporting and payment within the term of the ANTI-VeC Network.

The ANTI-VeC Network focuses on the development of genetic / symbiont vector control strategies and related fields. This includes:

  • suppression and replacement / transmission blocking approaches
  • vector-pathogen/symbiont interactions and line creation
  • symbiont discovery
  • underlying vector biology relevant to genetic intervention
  • relevant aspects of vector ecology and behaviour
  • social science of community acceptance
  • mathematical / economic modelling

All applications must be within the scope of the ANTI-VeC network and its remit.  

 

Timescales

  • Application deadline: Open call - no specified deadline
  • Notification of funding: Within 4-5 weeks of application 
  • Funding available: Within 4-5 weeks of application

 

How to apply

Funding is available to early career ANTI-VeC network members based for work in UK or DAC-list countries.  Applicants must apply to become a network member if not already one.  Membership is open to all those with an interest in the field and the network is free-of-charge to join via the Join us section.

Applications are welcome from:

  • Registered PhD students from DAC-list countries
  • Early career researchers including post-docs and lecturer level staff staff from UK or DAC-list countries 

Please refer to the DAC list of ODA recipient countries for LMIC eligibility: https://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/daclist.htm 

Please read the Application Guidance document providing further information.  It provides important information on the eligibility of applicants and costs.   

A list of reference documents are provided below for download.

The completed application form should be submitted as a PDF file to anti-vec-network@glasgow.ac.uk


Further information

The following documents  are available to view and download:

ANTI-VeC Training and Technology/Knowledge Exchange Visits Application Guidance

ANTI-VeC Training and Technology/Knowledge Exchange Visits Application Form

 

Useful resources

OECD DAC List countries
https://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/daclist.htm 

 

Contact

Michelle Connolly, Network Manager

Michelle.Connolly@glasgow.ac.uk 

anti-vec-network@glasgow.ac.uk 


ANTI-VeC Travel Bursaries June 2019 London Meeting Reimbursement

Please see the following updated documents regarding reimbursement of Travel Bursary Awards for UK Annual Meeting in London, June 2019

 

 

Other documents required for reimbursement will be emailed to recipeints prior to the Meeting.

 

30 May 2019


Testimonials from ANTI-VeC Training & Technology / Knowledge Exchange Visit Awardees

Roger Sanou, IRSS Burkina Faso

 

Training on machine learning analysis to interpret infrared spectra for Mosquito trait prediction

"This award allowed me to attend the "machine learning" training in Glasgow. I much appreciated the training in regards of what I learnt in terms of analysing my data, exploiting my results to identify and predict the age and the species and later the other traits of malaria mosquitoes. 

In addition, it was a great opportunity for me to establish partnership with other scientists. Thanks to the organising team for his support".

 


Testimonials from ANTI-VeC Travel Bursary Awardees

Here are some testimonials from the Travel Bursary Recipients who attended the Anti-VeC Annual Meeting in July 2018.

 

Ms Assétou Dionégué Diarra, ICER Mali

 

 

This first meeting of Anti-VeC was a very nice experience. The organizing team was up to it.
The trip to Glasgow was well organized and the information was clear. Congratulations to the whole team.

 

Mr Sawdetuo Aristide Hien, IRSS Burkina Faso

I would like to thank you for allowing me to participate in this very informative conference and also for allowing me to know several imminent personalities from the world of science in general and my specialty (Medical Entomology) in particular! May this type of conference be ongoing and ongoing to enable young researchers like us to learn new knowledge. I thank all staff and all the participants of this conference.

 

Mr Magellan Tchouakui, LSTM/CRID Cameroon

 

The Anti-VeC meeting of July 2018 was a great opportunity of collaboration and very well organised.

 

Mr Godfrey Nattoh, PAUSTI/JKUAT Kenya

 

Those were interesting presentations; I got enthused by the comments too. I acquired new insights that would shape my approach in science. Thank you for the invite, providing travel grant, and accepting my poster.

 

Ms Nidya Alexandra Segura Guerrero, Universidad Pedagogica y Tecnologica de Colombia

 

The ANTI-Vec meeting allowed me to met people from different continents sharing the same aim. I as a researcher definitely I will take advantage of the opportunities that the network offers.

 

 


CLOSED: ANTI-VeC Pump-Priming Funding

ANTI-VeC is delighted to announce the successful awardees of our pump-priming funding call.  Following a highly competitive two-stage review process, we selected 9 projects which are aligned to the key themes of the Network, relating to vector-pathogen interactions, novel symbionts and transmission blocking, gene drive systems, mosquito behaviour, as well as social sciences and stakeholder engagement to deliver information about genetic control measures.  

We received 34 expressions of interest at the first stage and the overall quality of the proposals received was very high.

The 9 projects selected for funding are: 

Project Title Investigators / Organisations Award Value   
Roles of insect-specific flaviviruses and immune priming in arbovirus transmission blocking in mosquitoes
  • Jandouwe Villinger (PI), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya
  • Seth Barribeau, University of Liverpool, UK
  • David Tchouassi, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya
£100,000
A Novel Malaria Transmission Blocking Strategy: Microsporidian Symbionts of Anopheles Mosquitoes
  • Jeremy Herren (PI), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya
  • Steven Sinkins, University of Glasgow, UK
  • Mara Lawniczak, Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK
 £99,928
Targeted disruption of the steroid hormone inactivation pathway in Anopheles mosquitoes for malaria control
  • Mark Paine (PI), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
  • Luc Salako Djogbenou, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
 £95,400
Determining heritable microbe incidence, prevalence and impact in sandfly vector species
  • Greg Hurst (PI), University of Liverpool, UK
  • Jandouwe Villinger, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya
  • Damaris Matoke-Muhia, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya
  • Claudia Ximena Moreno Herrera, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellin, Colombia
  • Rafael Vivero, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellin, Colombia
  • Gloria Cadavid, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellin, Colombia
 £99,952
Functional genetics tools for Anopheles funestus: opening the door to genetic control and to an understanding of its vector competence (FunFuncGen)
  • Tony Nolan (PI), UK
  • Charles Wondji, Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases (CRID), Cameroon
 £97,592
Should tsetse symbiont, S. glossinidius, be engineered to control African Trypanosomiasis
  • Alvaro Acosta-Serrano (PI), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
  • Daniel Masiga, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya
  • Lee Haines, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
 £98,334
Effects of co-infection of Wolbachia and the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium pingshaense in Aedes aegypti
  • Abdoulaye Diabate (PI), Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Sante (IRSS) / Centre Muraz, Burkina Faso
  • Etienne Bilgo, Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Sante (IRSS) / Centre Muraz, Burkina Faso
  • Steven Sinkins, University of Glasgow, UK
  • Maria Vittoria Mancini, University of Glasgow, UK
 £70,800
Into the Wild: New Models for Community Engagement with Mosquito Releases
  • Ann Kelly (PI), King's College London, UK
  • Fredros Okumu, Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania
  • Javier Lezaun, University of Oxford, UK
  • Prosper Chaki, Ifakara Health Institute / Pan African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA), Tanzania
  • Givemore Munhenga, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Brian Tarimo, Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania
  • Marceline Finda, Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania
 £83,847
In the eye of the swarm: Mapping the acoustic landscape of mosquito disease vectors
  • Joerg Albert (PI), University College London, UK
  • Sarah Moore, Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania
  • Marta Andres, University College London, UK
  • Matthew Topping, University College London, UK
 £99,864


Further information on each of these projects will be made available soon.


Mara Lawniczak

Title: The Impact of feeding method on Anopheles mosquito midgut microbiota and P.falciparum infection rates

Principal Investigator: Mara Lawniczak (Sanger Institute)

Co Investigator 1: Arthur Talman (Sanger Institute)

Co Investigator 2:  Abdoulaye Djimde (ICER, Mali)

Project Summary: Malaria is solely transmitted through mosquitoes.  Parasites invading the mosquito midgut can encounter environmental variation important in determining infectiousness of the parasite to the mosquito. Of particular interest is the mosquito gut microbiome, which is majorly altered during blood feeding.  Current experiments looking into the importance of host microbiome and more generally measuring parasite transmission success typically use mosquitoes fed on an artificial membrane system that may not adequately represent natural skin feeding.  We propose to establish whether mosquito feeding mode alters mosquito microbiota and infectivity of the parasite mosquitoes.  We will do so by comparing direct skin feed infections that fully recapitulate the natural infection process to the gold standard membrane feeding assay using blood from the same donor.  Midgut microbiota will characterized by 16S sequencing of the dissected mosquito midgut at peak bacterial growth postfeed, and dissections of mosquitoes retained for 8-10 days postfeed will reveal parasite infection rates.   The project will initiate long-term multi- project collaboration between Mali and Europe and will likely produce pilot data required to obtain further funding.  Finally, the intellectual and logistics links created as part of this project are likely to benefit several young scientists currently seeking independent positions.  In summary, this project will significantly enhance capacity in the field of medical entomology in Mali for scientists both local to the country and further afield.

Countries involved:

  • Mali
  • United Kingdom

Jandouwe Villinger

Title:   Role of insect-specific flaviviruses and immune priming in arbovirus transmission blocking in mosquitoes

Principal Investigator: Jandouwe Villinger (ICIPE)

Co Investigator 1: Seth Barribeau (University of Liverpool)

Co Investigator 2:  David Tchouassi (ICIPE)

Project Summary: Vertically transmitted insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFVs), which do not infect mammals, are key to understanding the evolution of flaviviruses and, similar to Wolbachia, may potentially be exploited to control arbovirus transmission in blood-feeding insects.  Indeed, some ISFVs inhibit, whereas others enhance, replication of arboviruses in mosquito cells and/or mosquitoes.  The underlying mechanisms by which ISFVs modulate mosquito vectorial capacity remain poorly understood.  As ISFVs are both prevalent and critical to the transmission epidemiology of medically important flaviviruses, a better understanding of their role in altering arborvirus replication in mosquitos is essential.

ISFVs may modulate mosquito vectorial capacity either by directly and competitively preventing the establishment of subsequent arbovirus superinfections, or via host immune primed responses.  We propose to investigate how ISFVs modulate mosquito vectorial capacity using transcriptome sequencing to characterise both vector and viral gene expression responses and identify underlying mechanisms by which ISFvs affect the establishment of subsquent arbovirus superinfections.

This study will critically inform the potential of ISFVs and immune priming for blocking pathogen transmission in mosquitoes.

Countries involved:

  • Kenya
  • United Kingdom

Jeremy Herren

Title: A Novel Malaria Transmission Blocking Strategy: Microsporidian Symbionts of Anopheles Mosquitoes

Principal Investigator: Jeremy Herren (ICIPE)

Co Investigator 1: Steven Sinkins (University of Glasgow)

Co Investigator 2: Mara Lawniczak (Wellcome Sanger Institute)

 

Project Summary: We have discovered a novel microsporidian symbiont (microsporida MB) that prevents the malaria mosquito (anopheles gambiae) from transmiting the malaria parasite.  The proposed research aims to study anopheles- microsporidia MB symbiosis and to determine how it can be usefully disseminated into mosquito populations to decrease their capacity to transmit malaria.  The multi-faceted approach involves an in-depth characterisation of microsporidia MB - host interactions on several levels.  Investigating microsporidia MB transmissin dynamics and will enable us to determine the potential strategies that could be used to spread this symbiont through anopheline populations.  In addition, we will examine the relationship between transmission routes and the malaria transmission blocking phenotype.  The proposed research will greatly improve our understanding of microsporidia MB - anopheline symbiosis and advance the prospect of utilising it to control the spread of vector borne disease.

 

Countries involved:

  • Kenya
  • United Kingdom

Mark Paine

Title:  Targeted disruption of the steriod hormone inactivation pathway in Anopheline Mosquitos for malaria control

Principal Investigator: Mark Paine (LSTM)

Co Investigator 1:  Luc Salako Djogbenou (University of Abomey-Calavi)

Co Investigator 2: Hanafy M Ismail (LSTM)

Co Investigator 3: Gareth Lycett (LSTM)

Project Summary: Malaria, transmitted by anopheline mosquitoes, remains a major cause of death worldwide.  At last count (2016) there 216 million malaria cases and 445,000 deaths, mainly in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), predominantly in Sub Saharan Africa (~80%).  Given the dependence of the malaria inverventions on mosquito control intervention and the escalating resistance to exisiting insecticides, new targets for vector control intervention are urgently needed to reduce the disease transmission.  Disrupting the vectorial capacity and fertility of anopheles mosquitoes using novel transgenic technologies can potentially lead to powerful new interventions to reduce malaria transmission.  This project will validate new targets for genetic and chemical control of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes based on the ecdysone (20E) pathway.  Tight regulation of 20E peak activity coordinates mosquito blood feeding, mating and reproduction.  However, the ortholog to the essential 20E deactivation enzyme from drosophila (CYP18A1) is absent in An. gambaie, yet present in An. funestus, the second major African malaria vector, and many other insects.  This suggest critical differences that might be exploited to control the major malaira vectors in Sub Saharan Africa.  This project will characterise the role of the An.funestus CYP118A1, opening the field to define alternative pathway targets in An. gambaie, and build a better multi-disciplinary relationship to develop new genetic and chemical methods of vector control.

Countries involved:

  • United Kingdom
  • Benin

Greg Hurst

Title:   Determining heritable microbe incidence, prevalence and impact on sandfly vector species

Principal Investigator: Greg Hurst (University of Liverpool)

Co Investigator 1: Jandouwe Villinger (ICIPE)

Co Investigator 2:  Damaris Matoke-Muhia (ICIPE)

Co Investigator 3: Claudia Ximena Moreno Herrera (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)

Co Investigator 4: Rafael Vivero (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)

Co Investigator 5: Gloria Cadavid (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)

Project Summary: Heritable microbes - viruses, bacteria and protists that pass from a female insect to her progeny - are common in insects, and biologically important.  Carrying a heritable microbe may allow a blood feeding vector to live on a blood diet alone and may modify its ability to transmit pathogens.  Research on these symbionts has largely focused on Wolbachia/mosquito interactions, which has developed into a tool for controlling vector borne diseases (mainly dengue).  This project will examine the symbiotic interactions in sandflies, and their potential to modify vector competence for Leishmania transmission.  We will establish the delivery of endosymtionts in sandfly vectors on Colombia and Kenya and evaluate the impact they have on the vector competence of their insect host.  Our work will concentrate on two microbes: Wolbachia and Rickettsia.  Through the Project, we will develop a wider understanding of the symbionts of vectors, their potential biological effects, and their potential utility in control of vector borne infections that impact on the health and wellbeing of people in Lower and Middle Income countries.

Countries involved:

  • United Kingdom
  • Kenya
  • Colombia

Tony Nolan

Title:  Functional genetics tools for Anopheles funestus: opening the door to genetic control and to an understanding of its vector competence (FunFuncGen) 

Principal Investigator: Tony Nolan (University of Liverpool)

Co Investigator 1: Charles Wondji (CRID)

Project Summary: A way to introduce precise genetics into an organism is essential for understanding how genes determine key phenotypic characteristics.  In the case of mosquito vectors such a technology, can allow us to understand the genetic nature of traits that make it such a resilient transmitter of the malaria parasite. Half the world's population are at risk from malaria and every year and, despite recent interventions that have had some success, close to half a million people die, most of these children.  Anopheles funestus is significant vector of malaria in many areas of Sub Saharan Africa, often being the dominant species responsible for the majority of transmission in some areas.  Despite this, it is relatively poorly studied in the lab, in part because it can be difficult to rear in the laboratory, in part because a technology to geneticaly transform it has yet to be developed.  This project will bring together two research teams with unique and complimentary experience in the rearing of anopheles funestus and in genetic transformation of mosquitoes, respectively.  We will work to establish from wild-caught mosquitoes new laboatory colonies of A. funestus, providing varied genetic populations as a resource for the scientific community.  We will use precise genome editing tools such as CRISPR, to cut almost any mosquito DNA sequence of choise to introduce desired sequence changes. Such a technology permits confirmation of the role of genetic sequences that might previoulsy have been associated with important traits like human biting preference or insecticide resistance.  It will also open the way for genetic control tools such as gene drive that looks to introduce traits that affect a population's ability to transmit parasites, yet ensures these traits show preferential inheritance to that a population can be rapidly transformed.

Countries involved:

  • United Kingdom
  • Cameroon

Alvaro Acosta-Serrano

Title: Should tsetse symbiont, S. glossinidius, be engineered to control African trypanosomiasis?

Principal Investigator: Alvaro Acosta-Serrano (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine)

Co Investigator 1: Daniel Masiga (ICIPE)

Co Investitagor 2: Lee Haines (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine)

 

Project Summary: Tsetse symbionts play a prominent role in fly biology by supplementing vitamins (which the fly is unable to make) into nutritionally-poor blood meal.  In other insects, symbionts can also contribute to environmental adaptation, provide defences towards pathogen and parasites, dicttate male selecion, and be exploited via a novel disease control strategy called paratransgenesis.   Paratransgenesis involves genetically engineering a bacterial symbiont to produce a protein within the insect that specifically stops the insect from being able to transmit disease.  Our main goal is to identify how sodalis glossinidius manipulate the fly into accommodating a parasite infection.  We want to identify what molecules sodalis release, to understand why these molecules influence fly biology and to examine how this vector-symbiont-parasite relationship impacts disease prevalence in wild tsetse populations in Kenya.  Using the information, we will incorporate symbiont prevalence into current epidemiological models, thereby improving accuracy for identifying potential disease hotspots, which will help vector control teams prioritise interventions.

 

Countries involved:

  • United Kingdom
  • Kenya

Abdoulaye Diabate

Title: Effects of co-infection of Wolbachia and the entomopathogenic fungus metarhizium pingshaense in Aedes aegypti

Principal Investigator: Abdoulaye Diabete (IRSS)

Co Investigator 1: Etienne Bilgo (IRSS)

Co Investigator 2: Steve Sinkins (University of Glasgow)

Co Investigator 3: Maria Vittoria Mancini (University of Glasgow)

 

Project Summary: Vector borne diseases (VBD) account for a significat proportion of the global burden of infectious disease.  Nearly half of the world's population is infected with at least one type of vector borne pathogen.  In Burkina Faso, despite susbstantial efforts devoted to controlling infectious diseases, in the last two years the country has been severely hit with dengue outbreaks.  The spread of insecticide resistance in the vector aedes aegypti has challenged the standard public health approaches to control these diseases, hence the scientific community is calling for massive investments in new tools. Wolbachia mediated transmission-blocking pathogens is one of the most promising novel strategies.  Wolbachia is an intracellular and maternally inherited bacterium.  Bacteria species from this genus not only increase mosquitoes' resistance to malaria parasites and arthropod-borne viruses, but they also reduce their fitness and reproductive capacities.  Several trials with wolbachia transinfected aedes to evaluate effectiveness in reducing dengue are underway.  Different wolbachia strains introduced into Ae aegypti  have different properties; wAu is an extremely efficient dengue transmission blocker but does not induce cytoplasmic incompatibility, the main mechanism used by wolbachia to spread through populations, so alternative spreading methods are needed if this strain is to be used in disease control. We will investigate the possibility that Wolbachia confer protection against Metarhizium pathogenic fungi in Ae aegypti and thus assess whether fungi might be used to spread the strain of wolbachia through populations.  We will also introduce wolbachia into a local genetic background by backcrossing, and examine the effects on the most important parameters with respect to potential future use for dengue control in West Africa.

 

Countries involved:

  • Burkina Faso
  • United Kingdom

Ann Kelly

Title: Into the Wild: New Models for Community Engagement with Mosquito Releases

Principal Investigator: Ann Kelly (King's College, London)

Co Investigator 1: Fredros Okumu (Ifakara Health Institute)

Co Investigator 2: Javier Lezaun (University of Oxford)

Co Investigator 3: Prosper Chaki (Ifakara Health Institute / PAMCA)

Co Investigator 4: Givemore Munhenga (University of Witwatersrand)

Co Investigator 5: Brian B Tarimo (Ifakara Health Institute)

Co Investigator 6: Marceline Finda (Ifakara Health Institute)

 

Project Summary: A collaboration between social scientists, public health practioners, entomologists and vector biologists, this project seeks to formulate and test a set of principles for effective community engagement with novel vector control interventions, specifically those that involve the release of laboratory-altered insects.  The project combines research into past experiences of insect releases, international guideline development via the Pan-Africa Mosquito Control Association, and proof-of-principle stakeholder engagement process in Tanzania. This project seeks to develop new models for robust community engagement with novel vector control interventions, grounded in systemic social scientific research and extensive input from stakeholders.

Countries involved:

  • United Kingdom
  • Tanzania
  • Kenya
  • South Africa

Joerg Albert

Title: In the eye of the swarm: Mapping the acoustic landscape of mosquito disease vectors

Co Investigator 1: Joerg Albert (University College, London)

Co Investigator 2: Sarah Moore (Ifakara Health Institute)

Co Investigator 3: Marta Andreas (University College, London)

Co Investigator 4: Matthew Su (University College, London)

 

Project Summary: Sound plays an essential role in the courtship of all major mosquito disease vectors.  It has been known for some time that males use detection of conspecific flight tones to locate females.  Recently,  more complex interactions involving frequency-modulated signals and distortion products have been suggested.  While it is clear, that both males and females use sound to locate and identify respective mating partners, how they actually do this is unclear. Complicating things further, mosquitoes mate within - often large - swarms.  Swarms of Anopheles gambaie can contain up to thousands of males, with only small numbers of females entering the swarm from the edges.  All of the previous work has ignored that these mating interactions occur in the context of these chaotic aggregations and has predominately measured interactions between isolated couples.  As an environment for acoustic communication the swarm has remained a mystery. Our project explores the acoustic landscape of - and acoustic behaviours within - the mosquito swarm.  In the field, we will map the swarm's sound emissions using custom-designed microphone/playback arrays that can be introduced to swarms of anopheles gambaie.  In the lab, we will test the auditory (or behavioural) responses of individuals (or groups) of males and females to the recorded sound stimuli (creating 'virtual swarm copies' in the lab).  These approaches will directly inform novel vector control methods (traps and mating disruption) and contribute to ongoing efforts by providing novel assessment of reproductive (acoustic) fitness of genetic modified mosquitoes before their mass-release in the field.

Countries involved:

  • United Kingdom
  • Tanzania

 

ANTI-VeC funded projects: In the eye of the swarm 

 



Briefly describe the project for us?

"Many significant mosquito species mate within swarms, with acoustic communication between males and females playing an important role in their courtship. Our project investigates the acoustic landscape of the mosquito swarm and explores its impact on mosquito behaviour."

What are the unknowns/gaps in knowledge that you are investigating?

"Our knowledge of mosquito hearing and acoustic communication has improved significantly in the past decade. However, the overwhelming majority of publications have focused on isolated mosquitoes and have neglected the environment and influence of the swarm. We are therefore directing our attention on the swarm itself in order to try and translate the findings based on individuals to a group environment."

When did the project begin and what have you explored so far?

"The project began at the start of 2019. We have so far devised novel microphone arrays that can be inserted into groups of mosquitoes to generate recordings within a laboratory setting. In parallel, we also try to get an idea of how individual mosquitoes, and even individual mosquito ears, respond to different sounds. It is our main goal to help form a more coherent view of mosquito auditory ecology which can then be used to improve vector control strategies."

How are you and your partners working together to realise this project?

"The next major step in the project is to take the microphone set-up from the lab to the field. Our partners at the Ifakara Health Institute host semi-field facilities that can help with this translation. We will spend time in Tanzania working together in both these semi-field facilities and in the field itself, locating mosquito swarms and then measuring their resulting acoustic emissions. Also, and most importantly, a member of the Ifakara team, Mr Watson Ntabaliba, has visited us in London earlier this year. His advice will be crucial to create the best possible, and field-proof, recording setup."

Is there an example of evidence/data that has surprised you from your experiments so far?

"One surprise - and it is almost a surprise that it surprised us - is how mosquito auditory biology can be bafflingly complex and deceptively simple at the same time. They mostly operate with pure tones but their ears respond primarily not to these pure tones but to pure tone distortions which are produced actively within their ears. The behavioural and physiological responses of mosquitoes seem tuned to a rather narrow range of frequencies at any moment in time, but over periods of few seconds – or only hundreds of milliseconds - they can change their sound emissions (wing beats) dramatically."

What are you hoping the completed project will tell us? 

"In mosquito auditory biology, understanding how the two phenomena of (i) a narrow frequency selectivity and (ii) a spectrally wide range of sound signals are physiologically coordinated, and integrated, seems to be the nut to crack! We are confident however that this will provide the key to understanding, and manipulating, mosquito behaviour, and lead to novel acoustic lures, repellents or other vector control interventions. 

By improving our knowledge of the acoustic landscape of the swarm, the results generated as part of our project will also help to design fitness assessments to test the swarming capabilities of genetically modified mosquitoes."

You can hear more about this project from one of its co-investigators Marta Andres Miguel at ANTI-VeC’s 2nd annual meeting, where she will be a speaker. Go to our events page for a list of current speakers and to register.

 


OPEN: ANTI-VeC International Conference Bursaries - Mosquito Sensory Biology Symposium

Grants are available for international conference bursaries of up to £2,500, via competitive application to the Network Executive Committee. 

Our conference bursaries are intended to support attendance at leading international conferences.  Funds are specifically available to support network members presenting work at scientific conferennces.

This specific call is for applications for bursaries to attend the Mosquito Sensory Biology Symposium, 6-8 September 2019, University College London, UK.

 

Timescales

  • Abstract submission deadline to Joerg Albert, joerg.albert@ucl.ac.uk and Judy Bagi, j.bagi@ucl.ac.uk: 2nd August 2019
  • ANTI-VeC bursary application deadline: 2nd August 2019
  • Notification of funding: by 12th August 2019

 

How to apply

Funding is available to early career ANTI-VeC network members based for work in UK or DAC-list countries.  Applicants must apply to become a network member if not already one.  Membership is open to all those with an interest in the field and the network is free-of-charge to join via the  us section.

Applications are welcome from:

  • Registered PhD students from DAC-list countries
  • Early career researchers including post-docs and lecturer level staff staff from UK or DAC-list countries

Applicants must also indicate on the application form if they have submitted an abstract for a poster presentation to University College London, and include the title and abstract text.

 

Please refer to the DAC list of ODA recipient countries for LMIC eligibility: https://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/daclist.htm 

Please read the Application Guidance document providing further information.  It provides important information on the eligibility of applicants and costs.   

A list of reference documents are provided below for download.

 

The completed application form should be submitted as a PDF file to anti-vec-network@glasgow.ac.uk


Further information

The following documents  are available to view and download:

Mosquito Sensory Biology Application Guidance

Mosquito Sensory Biology Application Form

 

Useful resources

OECD DAC List countries
https://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/daclist.htm