Community ecology of biting insects: characterisation of biting insect-host interactions in malaria-endemic Ghana

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford


Blood-sucking flying insects play a pivotal role in the transmission of a wide range of vector-borne diseases, posing a significant threat to human health. Malaria remains one of the deadliest and most prevalent diseases throughout tropical regions, with 216 million cases being reported globally in 2016, leading to 450,000 related deaths, of which 90% occurred within sub-Saharan Africa. In this region, mosquitos of the Anopheles gambiae complex are the predominant vectors of the malaria pathogen Plasmodium. Whilst the ability to transmit malaria varies greatly between the individual species of the complex, the highly anthropophilic An. gambiae sensu stricto (s.s), An. coluzzii and An. arabiensis are considered to be the primary malaria vectors within sub-Saharan Africa. Vector control initiatives, including insecticide treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying, have been regularly used with varying rates of success. A developing control method aims to remove the primary malaria vectors through a genetically based approach (gene drive). However, before implementation, a responsible and informed understanding of the impact of such removal on other insects, including potential disease vectors and their predators, is required. This project aims to examine biting insect-host interactions within Ghana. Current assessments of mosquito interactions are primarily constrained to examining small numbers of species. This project will examine the interactions of a wider range of mosquito and other biting insect species to generate a community-wide interaction network. Further, the impact of predation, interspecific competition and apparent competition at the larval stage on the dynamics of co-occurring mosquito species will be assessed.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007474/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
2090652 Studentship NE/S007474/1 30/09/2018 30/03/2023 Ben Bellekom
NE/W502728/1 31/03/2021 30/03/2022
2090652 Studentship NE/W502728/1 30/09/2018 30/03/2023 Ben Bellekom