Research Initiatives

Photo: Aedes albopictus. Gaugler Lab Research Interests:

Current research projects reflect our diverse basic and applied interests at the lab bench and in the field. We tend to work on the Asian tiger mosquito, a principal vector of dengue and chikungunya viruses. Given the center’s unique relationship with the local mosquito control units, significant effort is given to mission oriented research centered on managing this urban mosquito species, which was the focus of a recently completed $3.8M area-wide IPM project.

We have designed an autodissemination station (patent pending) to topically contaminate oviposition-seeking container-dwelling mosquitoes with an insect growth regulator. Our prototype station has demonstrated effectiveness at attracting the target insect, toxicant transfer to the insect, and subsequent transfer from the insect to target habitats at a lethal concentration. Field trials are underway using newly developed biphasic formulations. Another project seeks to develop multi-rotor robotic drones as a novel aerial platform for carrying out multiple specialized mosquito control tasks autonomously. Our new heavy-lift prototype is equipped with an array of sensors including sonar, barometer, magnetometer, gyros, video camera (w/ video downlink), accelerometers, and more. Proof-of-concept experiments, including the first field work, begin soon.

On the basic side, the lab has a long-term interest in nematodes as parasites. This work seeks a fundamental understanding of the complex host-parasite relationship between mosquitoes and mermithid nematodes. One goal is to understand how the short-loved, infective stage parasite synchronizes its life cycle and foraging so precisely with that of the mosquito host. And we are fascinated by the large writhing mating clusters that the parasites form. Here we are examining the underlying fitness benefits derived from what appears to be a risky predator-attractive behavior. We also are investigating basic aspects of mosquito biology, including how carbohydrate availability affects mating success and offspring fitness in males. Additional studies are aimed at oviposition preference behavior, as well as host-feeding patterns.

Research partnerships with investigators based in county mosquito control units form the core for many of our studies, but the laboratory maintains a broad-based portfolio of collaborations with partners in industrial, academic, military, and federal labs. We currently have collaborations with researchers in four U.S. states as well as in Egypt, Thailand, Italy, and Ghana.

Center for Vector Biology