Mosquitoes are important vectors of infectious diseases and successful transmission depends on the efficacy of host discrimination and blood uptake. This process is directed by the need for the mosquito to feed on those hosts that provide greatest fitness. We have preliminary evidence that malaria mosquitoes can detect the quality of the blood meal based on the volatiles emitted from the human skin. The mosquito would thus be able to decide who is the best host for the development of her eggs. The project aims to unravel one of the most important evolutionary mechanisms behind mosquito host choice by testing the hypothesis that malaria mosquitoes detect the quality of a host by its skin volatiles.
In collaboration with the faculty of medical sciences of Radboud University and experts in microbial ecology of Wageningen University, the project will investigate relationships among blood composition and nutritional quality, human skin and odour profiles, host preference and mosquito fitness. The work will involve doing bio-assays with mosquitoes in olfactometer set-ups, gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry studies, microbiome sequencing and blood profile analyses. The candidate will work with immunological assays (e.g. tissue culture, Elisa, real-time PCR). Candidate volatiles will be tested in a field trial in Kenya to assess their effect in a natural setting. This will be the first study that links someone's attractiveness to mosquitoes with that individual's blood quality for mosquito reproduction. Identification of the blood constituents and volatile profiles are expected to lead to novel vector control tools.
The successful candidate will have an MSc degree in (Medical) Biology /Molecular Life Sciences with a specialization in bio-interactions, (molecular) ecology or similar, preferably with experience with behavioural studies on insects, statistical analyses and with routine molecular tools. For biosafety and biosecurity reasons, the candidate should be prepared to work under restricted conditions in a molecular laboratory. In addition, the candidate must be willing to work with human specimens (blood, cells) and Hepatitis vaccination is needed. The candidate will be proficient in the English language. We expect a candidate who can work in a multidisciplinary team in a collaborative spirit. Within the Laboratory of Entomology, PhD students are encouraged to supervise MSc thesis students when such opportunities arise.
We offer a full-time position (38 hours), initially for 1 year after which a go/no go decision will be taken on extension with another three years. Gross salary per month € 2222,- in the first year rising to € 2840,- per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment. The candidate will be based at the Laboratory of Entomology in Wageningen.
Information on the research: Dr. CJM (Sander) Koenraadt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the selection procedure: Mrs. Dorien Wissink (email@example.com).You can apply up to and including March 19, 2018
For this position you can only apply on line: www.wur.eu/career
Don't email your application directly to the people mentioned above but use the website to apply.
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The position is embedded in the Laboratory of Entomology of Wageningen University. The research interests of the One Health Entomology group within the Laboratory are to understand the factors that determine the presence and/or emergence of vector-borne diseases and to unravel the underlying mechanisms from molecular to ecosystem level. With this knowledge, the group ultimately aims to design novel strategies for vector control that are affordable, safe for human use, and sustainable in the context of our changing environment. The team consists of ambitious scientists that employ interdisciplinary approaches, both in the lab as well as in the field.