Knowledge for a sustainable world

The molecular and chemical ecology of the poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae (Mesostigmata: Dermanyssidae).

The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, is a free living ectoparasitic mite that primarily feeds on the blood of chickens. Poultry mite infestations adversely affect poultry production and pose a significant threat to hen welfare. Recent epidemiological reports suggest that ~83% of European poultry farms are currently infested. As poultry mite infestations in layer hen facilities result in eggs of reduced quality, egg blood spotting and decreased production overall, economic losses attributed to poultry mite infestation range from £150-300 million per annum in Europe. Current control methods based on acaricides and barn spraying remain ineffective as mites build resistance and persist in concealed crevices. As such, this project aims to develop novel methods for monitoring and control of the poultry red mite, focusing on disruption of the host seeking process.

Richard particularly enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers and was awarded an additional £11,000 to further explore the molecular basis of chemoreception and host location behaviour in poultry red mites with Dr Stewart Burgess at the Moredun Research Institute.

Primary Supervisor: Daniel Bray
Secondary Supervisor(s): Richard J Hopkins

Richard Lloyd Mills joined the Natural Resources Institute as a PhD researcher in the chemical ecology group under the supervision of Dr Daniel Bray and Professor Richard Hopkins in October 2018.

Prior to joining NRI, Richard graduated from the University of Hull in 2016 with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology and went on to complete an MRes in Ecology with Professor Andrew Beckerman at the University of Sheffield in 2017. 

Richard is currently working on the poultry red mite, a haematophagous ectoparasite that significantly impacts production in UK poultry farms. In 2019 Richard was awarded an additional £11,000 in funding from the British Egg Marketing Board for a project titled ‘Elucidating the molecular basis of chemoreception and host location in Dermanyssus gallinae’ in collaboration with Dr Stewart Burgess at the Moredun Research Institute.

Richard’s main research interests lie in the application of novel techniques for control of economically important pests and exploring the molecular basis of chemical communication in arthropods.

Qiang, L., Arabeyyat, Z. H., Xin, Q., Paunov, V.N, Dale, I.J.F, Lloyd Mills, R.I., Rotchell, J.M., Cheng, J., 2020. Silver Nanoparticles in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Embryos: Uptake, Growth and Molecular Responses.  International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21 (5)

Grant award: British Egg Marketing Board (BEMB) pump priming (£11,000).

Title: ‘Elucidating the molecular basis of red poultry mite chemoreception and host location behaviour.’

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