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Research in this cluster focuses on novel methods of control of mosquito-borne diseases including Malaria and Zika Virus.

Bioinformatics and genome-wide association approaches are used to identify targets in mosquitoes so that malaria transmission can be blocked with vaccines or natural products from a world-wide fungal collection.

New knowledge from studies of mosquito behavior in host detection, and nutritional control of mosquito development and reproduction can lead to novel approaches for the control of Dengue, Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. Interfering with the detection of human odor by mosquitoes would protect us from diseases transmitted by mosquito bites.  By identifying molecules that can modulate host-microbe interactions in insects, it may be possible to block coinfection of the insect population by disease-causing viruses.

Projects

  • Global fungal collection library

    Building a global fungal collection library at FIU generates the potential for the discovery of new drugs, an area that remains largely untapped, especially for novel antibiotics. There is a critical need to find drugs that will treat resistant infections and maximize the chances of success where current antibiotics no longer work. Scientists have isolated only a very small subset of the 5 million global fungal species; these are currently used to make a large percentage of existing drugs. The BSI library has a collection of 8,000 fungal species and plans to expand its collection.

  • Mosquitoes and disease transmission

    South Florida is vulnerable to the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. BSI faculty are world-recognized leaders in the study of hormonal systems that regulate mosquito reproduction, and for developing molecular tools for the investigation of mosquito host-seeking. Their government-funded research can potentially lead to novel molecular approaches for controlling the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

    Other BSI faculty research looks at blocking malaria transmission by novel molecules that act on the mosquito vector.