Vectors transmit many pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. These vectors are arthropods such as insects (e.g. mosquitoes) and arachnids (e.g. ticks). The so-called vector capacity is a measure for description of the ability of a vector population to transmit a pathogen. Vector competence as the ability for biological transmission of a pathogen by an arthropod is a major component of vector capacity. Besides vector competence several other factors are important for vector capacity, such as the abundance and geographic distribution of arthropods, their host preference and biting behavior, survival rate and -time of the arthropods and the extrinsic incubation period. The latter describes the time span from intake of a pathogen by a competent vector until the possible transmission to a susceptible host and is temperature dependent.
Main research topics
The laboratory for vector capacity investigates under experimental laboratory conditions the vector competence of arthropods (mosquitoes, biting midges, ticks and others) for viral, bacterial and parasitical pathogens as well as the extrinsic incubation period under different temperature regimes. These investigations are carried out in BSL2 and BSL3 insectaries and contribute to risk assessment for the occurrence and distribution of indigenous and exotic vector-borne diseases.
Another focus of the laboratory is to decipher the molecular determinants for the development of a pathogen in a vector. For this, the modulation of the gene expression in natural barriers of the vector such as the midgut or the salivary glands in reaction to a certain pathogen as well as the adaptation of the gene expression of the pathogen to the vector is investigated with next generation sequencing technologies in order to obtain a fundamental understanding for the complex vector-pathogen-interactions.