Plasticity in mosquito-host interactions



Dr. Clement Vinauger

October 25 at 12:20pm in the Fralin Auditorium, 102 Fralin Hall

Hosted by Dr. C. Finkielstein


After completing my Master’s and PhD work in the lab of Prof. Claudio Lazzari, at the University of Tours, France, I held a temporary lecturer position in Tours for one year. I then spent close to five years in the lab of Prof. Jeff Riffell, at the University of Washington, in Seattle, USA. These experiences contributed to my training in insect neuroethology, physiology and chemical ecology, with a strong focus on triatomine bugs and mosquitoes. Now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA, USA), my lab is dedicated to the analysis of the neural and molecular basis of epidemiologically relevant behaviors in disease vector mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on earth and the diseases they transmit, such as Zika, Chikungunya and malaria, are responsible for at least one million deaths each year. Current strategies to control populations of disease vector insects are being challenged, in part because of rising insecticide resistance. Therefore, novel approaches, informed by improved knowledge of mosquito biology, are urgently needed. In this context, research in my lab focuses on the biochemical and neurophysiological basis of vector-host interactions. Mosquitoes need to access a food (blood) that is hidden under the skin of mobile and defensive hosts. In addition, the blood itself is the source of severe physiological stresses (e.g. thermal, oxidative). In other words, their food that is trying to kill them twice. In response to this unique selective pressure, mosquitoes fine-tune their host-seeking behavior by integrating inputs from multiple sensory modalities, past experience and from their own physiological state, all of this while navigating through a dynamic environment. Combining biochemical and analytical methods with behavioral and neurophysiological recordings, the Vinauger Lab seeks to identify epidemiologically relevant processes involved in these tasks, that could eventually be leveraged as targets of opportunity for vector control strategies.

Vinauger, Clément. "Vector cognition and neurobiology." Current Opinion in Insect Science (2019).

Eilerts, Diane, et al. "Odor-Specific Daily Rhythms in the Olfactory Sensitivity and Behavior of Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes." Insects 9.4 (2018): 147.

Vinauger, Clément, et al. "Modulation of host learning in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes." Current Biology 28.3 (2018): 333-344.

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