August 28, 2018

Kristen Hopperstad (North Carolina State University)

A population genetic and genomic approach to estimate the evolutionary potential of Aedes aegypti


The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is a vector of devastating human diseases. This mosquito can transmit dengue, also known as breakbone fever, and Zika, which can cause critical birth defects in infants. Understanding how this mosquito species is currently evolving can help us more effectively reduce mosquito populations and subsequent disease spread. I will use molecular techniques to investigate how yellow fever mosquito populations in the U.S. are related to each other. This tells us how genes are flowing across landscapes and if some populations are potentially evolving differently than others. These differences may have implications for disease transmission, pesticide resistance, and how mosquitoes can adapt to new environments. Further, I will also use environmental factors in analyses to look for potential drivers of genetic patterns. Finally, I will combine my data with a global dataset, and identify potential corridors and barriers to mosquito movement into and out of the U.S.