Knowledge for a sustainable world

Sensory synergies in Anopheles mosquito host-seeking behaviour

Malaria, a parasite transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, is one of the most serious vector‑borne diseases, affecting one‑fifth of the world population. This project aims to describe and quantify the close-range approach and landing behaviour of Anopheles gambiae s.l. in response to host-associated stimuli such as thermal, visual and odour features.

To achieve this, new behavioural assay techniques have been developed that allow researchers to systematically introduce a range of stimuli with very different physical properties, whilst recording mosquito landing. Initial results highlight how these stimuli are integrated to influence landing rates.

The findings of this project will help us to better understand the vector’s behaviour. Results may provide important insights into ways of optimising the design of mosquito traps by incorporating features shown to increase their attractiveness and capture/kill rate. Ultimately, this research will therefore contribute to improvements in strategies for vector control, and consequently to reducing the global burden of mosquito transmitted diseases.

Primary Supervisor: Frances Hawkes
Secondary Supervisor(s): Richard J Hopkins, Steven Belmain

Manuela began her full-time doctoral studies at NRI in September 2018. Previously, she obtained her BSc in Biological Science and an MSc in Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology both with First class Honours, from the University of Milano – Italy, with a one-year internship at the National University of Ireland Galway. Her passion for parasites was reflected in her thesis, which focused on the use of parasites as biocontrol agents.  

After her studies, Manuela worked for an NGO in Mozambique as an Assistant Project Manager on a food security project, focusing on reducing malnutrition in pre-school children from rural villages. Her interest for parasitic diseases was reinforced during this time, as she witnessed first-hand the effects of tropical infectious diseases and the impact they can have on rural populations. On returning to Italy, Manuela worked as a high school science teacher before starting her PhD.

Manuela is currently the President of the NRI Postgraduate Society, Chair of the NRIPS Symposium committee, Mentorship Programme Manager of the Doctoral Society (University of Greenwich) and co-founder of the PhD Mentorship Programme at the University of Greenwich and a member of the Royal Entomological Society, where she is also a representative, helping to convene the Society’s annual Postgraduate Forum in February 2020.

  1. Ahmed, K.S.D., Stephens, C., Bistline-East, A., Williams, C.D., Mc Donnell, R.J., Carnaghi, M., Huallacháin, D.Ó. and Gormally, M.J. (2019) Biological control of pestiferous slugs using Tetanocera elata (Fabricius)(Diptera: Sciomyzidae): Larval behavior and feeding on slugs exposed to Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita (Schneider, 1859). Biological Control, 135, pp. 1-8. (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2019.04.003)
  2. Carnaghi, M., Rae, R., De Ley, I.T., Johnston, E., Kindermann, G., Mc Donnell, R., O’Hanlon, A., Reich, I., Sheahan, J., Williams, C.D. and Gormally, M.J. (2017) Nematode associates and susceptibility of a protected slug (Geomalacus maculosus) to four biocontrol nematodes. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 27 (2), pp. 294-299. (doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/09583157.2016.1277418)
  3. Kouidrat, Y., Pizzol, D., Cosco, T., Thompson, T., Carnaghi, M., Bertoldo, A., Solmi, M., Stubbs, B. and Veronese, N. (2017) High prevalence of erectile dysfunction in diabetes: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of 145 studies. Diabetic Medicine, 34 (9), pp. 1185-1192. (doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.13403)
  4. Pizzol, D., Carnaghi M. (2017) Papillomavirus (HPV) in Low-Income Countries: Which Perspectives?. Journal of Immuno Virology, 1 (5). (doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.19080/JOJIV.2017.01.555571)
  • Awarded the 2020 ‘Verrall Bursary’ by the van Emden Bursary Fund - Verrall Association, The Entomological Club
  • Awarded a Travel Grant by the VIBes in Bioscience to attend the VIBes in Bioscience 2020 International Conference
  • ‘Highly Commended Poster’ at the 2019 Postgraduate Research Excellence Awards, awarded by the Research and Enterprise Training Institute, University of Greenwich
  • 2019 winner of ‘Best Oral Presentation’ for PhD Early Stage category, NRIPS Symposium, University of Greenwich
  • Travel Grant awarded by the Royal Entomological Society to attend the 2019 RES Post-Graduate Forum
  • 2016 ‘Erasmums + Scholarship’ awarded by the European Union (EU) for a year-long international student exchange
  • 2012 and 2014 – 2016 ‘Scholarship for Excellence’ awarded by the Università Milano Bicocca and the Università Milano Statale
  • 2010 ‘Best International Student’ awarded at Horowhenua College, New Zealand
  • 2nd place and 3rd place at the 20009 National and Regional Olympics of Chemistry

Membership

  • Member of the Royal Entomological Society, 2018-present
  • Member of the Doctoral Society Committee - Mentorship Programme Manager
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