Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate (2012-Present)

School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ

"Colonisation, Domestication and population control in pest insects"

It has become increasingly apparent that hosts and their gut microbiota interact to influence animal development, behaviour and ulitmately influence each other's evolution. In order to investiage a fundamental component of successful population control using techniques such as SIT or next generation RIDL, which rely on mass-reared sterilised male insects mating successfully with wild females under natural conditions, it is essential to understand how insects and their gut microbiota adapt to mass-rearing/laboratory conditions. Using the pest insect the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Ceratitis capitata (Medfly) as a model system we are documenting effects on life history, and its interaction with gut bacteria, of colonisation from wild populations to laboratory conditions. Our ultimate aim is to understand the processes at work between bacteria-host co-evolution with the potential to reduce or even reverse the undesirable effects of laboratory adaptation.

Ph. D. Research Project (2008-2012)

School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ
Oxitec Ltd, Milton Park, Oxford, OX14 4RX

"
The making of a successful male: an integrated study of male reproductive success in a pest insect"


This work was carried out with the pest insect the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Ceratitis capitata (Medfly), in order to determine the traits which determine reproductive success in males.
My work included study of the behavioural and morphological traits which can determine male reproductive fitness, work on the development and refinement of transgenic strains of medfly, and investigations into the effect of commensal bacteria on behaviour. With the ultimate aim of improving the efficacy of strains of RIDL medfly, by understanding the drivers of sexual selection and reproductive isolation.

Undergraduate Research Project (2006-7)

University of Durham, Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3HP, United Kingdom

"Investigating the ability of Anopheles atroparvus larvae to undergo a long term morphological colour change in response to shading and its role in evading detection by visual predators."
 

This work was carried out on mosquito larvae captured from the RSPB site on the Isle of Sheppey, L1 larvae were reared in artifical containers of varying colouration to determine the ability of larvae to undergo a limited, permanent colour change. It was determined that the mosquito larvae of this species had the ability to seek out dark surfaces to align themselves to and slowly alter their body colour brightness so as not to contrast with their surroundings by the L3 stage of development. Laboratory tests determined this gave the larvae a significant advantage in preventing predation by the stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, over non-colour adapted larvae.

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