Dig it: DDIG grant for Qixin He
Monday, April 16, 2012
EEB graduate student Qixin He has been awarded a Doctorate Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) of $15,000 from the National Science Foundation from June 1, 2012 for two years. She studies in the lab of Professor L. Lacey Knowles.
“Climate change and human disturbance increase the threats posed by disease vectors,” said He. “Therefore, understanding mechanisms enabling their rapid adaptation is of central importance. This study focuses on whether a specific chromosomal structural change (i.e., chromosomal inversions) facilitates adaptive divergence of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, the most severe malaria vector in sub-Sahara Africa. Such chromosomal structural changes may promote local adaptation because they buffer populations from the mixing effects of migrants from different habitats. This study will test this hypothesis empirically using a framework that will provide detailed demographic, geographic, and temporal information relevant to testing mechanisms of rapid adaptation. The study will also provide insights into the current debate regarding the source of adaptation: rapid adaptation facilitated by new inversion mutations or pre-existing genetic variation.”
“The results will be directly relevant to informing pest control agencies of which demographic or genetic factors will be the best target to impede rapid adaptation in mosquitoes. For example, it can provide critical information on whether genetically modified mosquitoes can compete with native populations and survive in the local environment. The work will foster academic communications between the Unitied States and Cameroonian researchers and students, and promote the education of local communities in malaria preventions.”
Image: Qixin He catches mosquitoes in a village in Cameroon and meets local villagers.
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