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Morphometric databank of noxious moquitoes: structural implementations and evolutionary hypothesis test

Grant number: 18/23448-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2020
Effective date (End): August 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Parasitology - Entomology and Malacology of Parasites and Vectors
Principal Investigator:Lincoln Suesdek Rocha
Grantee:Leticia Cecilia Gomes da Silva
Host Institution: Instituto Butantan. Secretaria da Saúde (São Paulo - Estado). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Mosquitoes (Culicidae) are vectors of pathogens that cause severe diseases, many of them still without vaccine available. To minimize the impact on public health, the main measure still is the control of vector mosquitoes. The microevolution of mosquitoes can be fast and act as obstacles to vector control, reason why this biological process has been much studied. Traditionally, population genetics is used to study microevolution, since it allows access to several indicators of genetic variability. Underlying the high genetic variability there are the phenotypic versatility, adaptability and plasticity, marked characteristics in mosquitoes and that negatively impact vector control actions. There is still much to uncover in this area, especially in the differentiation of genetic variability between species of native and exotic-invasive mosquitoes. In general, native species have more "genetic richness", but there are exceptions. For example, the Aedes aegypti mosquito (vector of several arboviruses) may have great genetic variability even far from its center of origin (sub-Saharan Africa). Knowledge in this field is still very incipient and will need to be deepened in order to continue the improvement of control methods. Geometric morphometry of mosquito wings is a cheap, accessible and powerful alternative to population genetics in microevolution studies, since there is a partial correlation between genetic and morphological markers. Under this paradigm, this research group recently developed WingBank, a morphometric database of harmful mosquito wings, which aims to serve as a link between specialists and health professionals regarding the exchange of evolutionary information. This database already has more than 13,000 images of wings, however it is dynamic and still not complete, it needs implementation of new functionalities. In view of the issues presented, this project aims to: 1) implement WingBank functionalities related to user registration, alar beat frequency and genetic information of mosquitoes, which are important for the expansion of its information spectrum associated with wing images a be deposited, as well as their safety, which will be an important advance in their structure; 2) use existing data on WingBank to test the biological hypothesis "exotic mosquitoes have lower morphological variability than native mosquitoes". This objective, in addition to allowing us to test the usability of WingBank, will bring unprecedented biological knowledge potentially useful to understanding the evolution of mosquitoes. This project is a harmonious combination of "middle" and "end" activities that will allow technical and scientific advances and contribute solidly to the candidate's professional education. (AU)

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