Emilie Pondeville – Research Associate, Kohl Lab
Tell me about your background and why you got into this field of research?
During my Masters and PhD studies, I worked with the fly model Drosophila and also the Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria to humans. In a different way to the fruit fly, female mosquitoes need a ‘blood-meal’ to develop their eggs – that is why they can transmit diseases. During my PhD, I became fascinated by mosquitoes, their reproductive biology, and consequences on disease transmission. I also got frustrated because of the lack of genetic tools available to study their biology and the reasons why they cause disease. That is why I did a post-doc to develop mosquito genetic tools allowing me to analyse mosquito gene function – with the aim to identify targets to decrease the ability of mosquitoes to spread disease.
What are you working on?
I have a long-term research interest in understanding mosquito biology – using genetic tools to control the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases. At the CVR, my group studies physiology and antiviral immunity in the Aedes aegypti mosquito (a host that spreads viruses such as Zika). We are trying to understand the contribution of tissue-specific antiviral strategies in the mosquito, defense and physiology pathway crosstalk, and communication between tissues during infection that leads to an integrated antiviral response.
Why is world mosquito day important?
Historically, world mosquito day is a commemoration of Sir Ronald Ross’s who discovered in 1897 that female mosquitoes were responsible for malaria transmission between humans. Due to his discovery, he then developed a mathematical model of mosquito-borne pathogen transmission which is still used by researchers today to develop strategies to limit disease transmission by mosquitoes.
World mosquito day is important as it helps to raise awareness that these blood-sucking insects can spread a lot of human and animal diseases, including viruses and parasites. It also highlights the importance of research in fighting mosquito-borne diseases.