Dr Nigel Beebe is Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland with a 50% position at the CSIRO. His research into the molecular biology, evolution and genetics of mosquitoes in the Southwest Pacific region delivers fundamental knowledge into the role mosquitoes play in mosquito-borne disease. He integrates entomological procedures with molecular evolution and genetics tools to answer fundamental questions including what species transmit disease pathogens, where they exist, why they are there, as well as how mosquito populations connect and move. Specific research areas include Southwest Pacific malaria vectors, endemic and exotic arbovirus vectors as well as novel mosquito control strategies.
For more detail on my research please see http://www.nigelbeebe.com
I work across three main mosquito systems responsible for mosquito-borne disease to humans, while also providing a fabulous framework to study evolution in action.
1) Malaria vectors of our region: only a small subset of our Anopheles species biodiversity transmit human malaria so our work revolves around describing exactly which species are important malaria vectors. Then we focus down on describing their the molecular evolution, distribution, biology and ecology throughout our Pacific region to assist focused mosquito control
2) Exotic urban arbovirus vectors and biosecurity threats: these Aedes species include the dengue vector Aedes aegypti which is endemic to many Queensland towns and presents a major biosecurity threat to urban Australia. Also the invasive Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus is now in the Torres Strait islands and presents a serious incursion threat to mainland Australia. Our research involves addressing these threats by investigating the incursion origins and movement of these invasive species. We are also developing novel species-specific population suppression tools based on releasing sterile/incompatible male mosquitoes for population suppression. Successful proof of concept field trials suppressing Aedes aegypti in northern Australia were completed in 2018-19.
3) Endemic arbovirus vectors and biosecurity threats to Australia: these Culex species include Australia’s major endemic arbovirus vectors responsible for transmission of most of our endemic arbovirus as well as the exotic Japanese encephalitis virus incursion threat in northern Australia. Evolutionary and population genetics approaches are currently being used to tease out the cryptic species’ status of this group, develop molecular diagnostics and better understand arbovirus transmission and future risks in our region.