Project: Buruli ulcers’ Most Wanted – Understanding the mosquito associated with the flesh-eating bacteria, Mycobacterium ulcerans.
Aedes notoscriptus has been identified in association with the emerging bacterial pathogen Mycobacterium ulcerans as well as, being a vector of Ross River virus. Key ecological features such as bloodmeal feeding patterns and movement dynamics of individuals, are, however, not clearly defined. This project will involve both laboratory and field-based components. Firstly, field collections will be conducted in the Mornington Peninsula using a combination of trapping techniques, with the aim of obtaining haematophagous ‘blood feeding’ insects including Ae. notoscriptus. A range of entomological and molecular techniques will be used for insect identification, with Ae. notoscriptus screened for a series of genetic markers to understand movement estimates. Additionally, insects identified to contain a bloodmeal will be screened for host DNA using a high-throughput metabarcoding DNA sequencing pipeline. Both aims of this project will feed into a larger project, which is attempting to control Mycobacterium ulcerns in Victoria.
This project would suit students with skills in molecular biology and a keen interest in field work, most likely coming from undergraduate studies in Science (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Computational Biology, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science and Microbiology). During this project the potential candidate will obtain experience in planning field work, setting insect traps, some basic insect identification, next-generation library preparation, sequencing and bioinformatic analysis of sequencing data. This project is a collaboration between Agriculture Victoria in Bundoora and Bio21 in Parkville, with the successful candidate spending time in both institutes.