Project Details


Although tick-borne diseases are on the rise and Lyme disease, a tick borne disease, is the most common vector-borne disease in the US (over 22,000 confirmed cases per year since 2007), tick control is still in its infancy. Of primary importance is to identify genetically based differences in vectorial capacity across populations of the vector (Ixodes scapularis). Prior research using phylogenetic markers has found scant but possible evidence of a unique genetic signature in urban and suburban populations associated with Lyme (Borrelia burgdorferi) transmission. We propose to use Next generation sequencing tools and screen thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or several fast evolving loci (such as Simple Sequence Repeats, SSR, or microsatellites) to reconstruct genetic signatures critical for differential vectorial capacity that are too recently differentiated to be revealed by morphological differences or most standard phylogenetic tools.In contrast, although mosquito control has a long history, it has often been reactive, which means that intensive mosquito control only occurs following a disease outbreak and is often performed under an 'emergency mentality'. As a result, mosquito control has relied on massive application of insecticides or habitat destruction without careful attention to either the population dynamics of the target species or the potential development of insecticide resistance. Interestingly, one of the 'success stories' has been the development of strategies for control of Aedes sollicitans, the salt marsh mosquito, a tremendous biting nuisance that delayed the settling of coastal NJ. Although this species can vector deadly Eastern Equine encephalitis virus, its control was not spurred by panic but by the desire to live mosquito-free. Careful study of the life-history of the species led to the realization that its eggs hatch only during Spring tides. This singular knowledge led to proactive and effective control targeting the immatures (larvae). However, control of Ae. solliciants is threatened by recent changes in sea level and increased storms. This is primarily because mosquito control has also been based on decades-old technology for surveillance and on empirical data,rather than on basic principles underlying their occurrence.Our aim is to develop proactive strategies for control of both local and introduced vector species that will take into account changes in weather patterns and sea level, multiple introductions with differing genetic makeup, and the development of insecticide resistance and other forms of selection. We are testing new large-scale strategies to predict the occurrence and size of vector populations using eDNA, as well as NextGen based genetic models of dispersal and mathematical models of life-history.
Effective start/end date8/1/099/30/19


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))


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