Ecology and Evolution of Invasive Mosquito Disease Vectors. Phil Lounibos

Phil Lounibos reviews the evolutionary history and competitive displacement between two mosquito species, Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever Mosquito) and Aedes albopictus, (Asian Tiger Mosquito), responsible for the spread of Dengue Fever and chikunguya, two of the world’s most problematic diseases.  The final third of his talk looks at a recent field study in Rio de Janeiro to consider what the impact of the competition between species is on the transmission of Dengue.

Members of the same genus, the two species share habits which contribute to adults and juvenile regularly encountering one another in the course of breeding and feeding.  Arriving to the United States in the mid-80’s and nearly a century after the Yellow Fever mosquito, Asian tiger mosquito has replaced Yellow Fever mosquito throughout much of its pre-1985 range.  

The overwintering ability of Aedes albopictus has facilitated its establishment in temperate regions of the eastern USA.  Competitive displacement by this species of Aedes aegypti in the southeastern USA has identified satyrization, a form of asymmetric mating interference, as being the most likely mechanism for the rapid reductions in distribution and abundance of A. aegypti in the USA and elsewhere where these species meet. Today aegypti appears to be largely restricted to the southern half of Florida.  Albopictus, on the other hand, has extended its range throughout much of the mid-Atlantic and as far as New York City.

Phil Lounibos works at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. University of Florida. He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard before moving to work at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Coastal Research Station in Mombasa, Kenya to perform research on tree hole mosquito ecology and to lead a team of investigators testing genetic methods for control of the yellow fever mosquito in East African villages.  At the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) since 1977, he continues to conduct field research on mosquitos and increasingly mentors postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, lecturing in departmental courses in Gainesville, and developing short courses for FMEL.  Current research on the Invasion Biology of Aedes albopictus tests hypotheses about the roles of predation, competition, climate, and genetic factors in the establishment of recent populations of this dengue and Chikungunya vector in the Americas.   

September 11, 2014