Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are found in many parts of the world. When they bite people to take blood, they can transmit microorganisms that cause disease. One reason that Ae. aegypti is so deadly is that it is closely associated with people and can breed in a wide range of water-filled containers such as dumpsites, construction sites, and discarded plastic containers.
Ae. aegypti must carefully choose where to lay their eggs. These decisions are achieved by using different senses to detect water where their progeny can thrive. The aim of my proposal is to characterize the genes and brain circuits important for mosqutioes to identify optimal egg-laying sites. I will perform these studies across groups of Ae. aegypti that have distinct egg-laying preferences to understand how these mosquitoes have adapted to the wide variety of environments associated with people.
Ultimately, my work will help us understand why Ae. aegypti (and not other species of mosquitoes) have become so intertwined with us and, thus, are so deadly. These studies will provide foundational data to support critically important mosquito control efforts around the world.