Understanding the physiological factors that modulate vector-host interactions
For disease vector insects, the host play the double of prey and predator. Their is therefore a strong selective pressure for vectors to respond to host related cues only in the appropriate physiological and temporal contexts. In this context, the lab seeks to identify the factors that modulate vectors' behavior and to characterize the mechanisms that allow this behavioral plasticity. For example, why and how are insect vectors biting at certain times of the day more than others? The Vinauger Lab is investigating the genetic, molecular and neural mechanisms that support their rhythmic activity and biting patterns. We rely on a multidisciplinary approach that combines tools from neuro-ethology, molecular biology and chemical ecology to better understand this phenomenon, as such investigations could potentially reveal targets of opportunity for disease vector control.
The lab is collaborating on various projects led by colleagues from all over the world to understand how physiological and environmental conditions, affect the ability of insect vectors to detect, identify and locate their hosts. Among others, the lab is regularly interacting and collaborating with:
The Lahondère Lab (Virginia Tech, USA)
The Lazzari Lab (IRBI, France)
The Benoit Lab (U. Cincinnati, USA)
The Pereira Lab (UFMG, Brazil)
The Riffell Lab (UW, USA)
Learning & Memory
Characterizing the modulation of host-seeking behavior by past experiences
Learning and memory plays an important role in host preference and parasite transmission by disease vector insects. But the neural and molecular mechanisms that allow this behavioral plasticity have only started to be unravelled. In this context, the Vinauger lab is merging concepts and approaches from medical entomology, ethology, molecular biology and neurobiology to better understand and characterize the cognitive abilities of key disease vector insect species.