Project 1

Identifying contemporary distributions of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus in Australia

In the face of current and forecasted drying of southern Australia, governments in these regions are seeking to ameliorate the effects of escalating water shortages. Their attempts to drought-proof urban regions, revisits the past, in encouraging the installation of rainwater tanks that again provide the dengue mosquito Aedes aegypti with stable breeding sites.  In the first half of the 20th century, this exotic dengue mosquito existed in many states of Australia, with occasional dengue epidemics sweeping south out of Queensland into NSW. This highly domestic mosquito now exists only in Queensland, but research suggests that its ability to utilise rainwater tanks as breeding sites will again allow it to live beyond its natural tropical range.

This project will identify its current range in Queensland and use molecular genetic tools to determine whether this mosquito is still moving through Queensland or whether it is represented by remnant populations from its original expansion of that occurred in the first half of the 20th century.

A new threat has also appeared on Australia’s northern doorstep in the form of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus. This highly invasive mosquito can transmit dengue, is an effective vector of arboviruses including Chikungunya and can potentially expand further south than Aedes aegypti. In utilising the same breeding environments as Aedes aegypti (human-made water storage containers) our attempts to drought-proof urban environments may assist the establishment of the Asian tiger mosquito in urban regions throughout Australia.

Unravelling the whereabouts of these mosquitoes, and the regions they are likely to move into under various climate scenarios, will allow for better development of tools for their analysis and control.

Objectives

  1. Determine contemporary distribution maps for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus in Queensland and detail genetic connectivity between populations.
  2. Evaluate domestic rainwater tanks’ integrity and ability to hose and maintain mosquito productivity to determine their contribution to potential range expansions of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus.

Published literature

Lead researchers

Dr Nigel Beebe (Project Leader)
  • Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland
  • CSIRO Ecosystems Sciences
Professor Ary Hoffmann 
  • Australian Laureate Fellow, Department of Genetics & Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne
Professor Scott Ritchie
  • Medical Entomologist, Queensland Health
  • Senior Fellow School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University

Project partners

  • University of Queensland
  • University of Melbourne
  • James Cook University
  • QIMR
  • CSIRO

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