My name is Eileen Jeffrey Gutierrez and I am a student in the Entomology& Insect Science GIDP PhD program. My Global Change Minor is equipping me to study climate-associated changes in a mosquito's ability to transmit tropical disease.
I am studying urban populations of the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and how local ecology influences a population's ability to transmit disease. I am interested in understanding the factors that prevent some populations from transmitting dengue viruses endemically and how these can be used to enhance mosquito-transmitted disease surveillance. One factor we are currently using to characterize vector populations in endemic and non-endemic cities is survival. We are doing this by analyzing the expression of age-dependent genes in order to obtain 'snapshots' of mosquito age-structure in the wild. Preliminary analyses suggest that climate variables play a large role in survival and would therefore enable significant changes in a vector population's ability to transmit disease. It is likely that as the effects of greenhouse gas emissions continue to alter ecosystems, the range and distribution of mosquito-transmitted disease will also change.