The QMEE CDT Project proposal database

Welcome to the QMEE CDT Project proposal database. This is a live list of projects proposals put forward by PIs across the CDT partner institutions

PIs/Supervisors will continue to add projects to this list over the next few months, so do keep checking back! You can search the projects using the box below: simply enter some text and press Search to do a text search across all the database fields. If you want to search more finely, the search tool also allows you to search on particular details of the project descriptions: you will see these finer search options appear if you click on the search box.

Click on the view button next to a project to get the full proposal description. If you want to download project details, either for all projects, or for a subset you have searched for, then click on the 'Download details' button.

The better to see you, the better to hear you: Sensory integration of visual and acoustic cues in the mating behaviour of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes and the diseases that they transmit have an enormous impact on both human and animal health. Despite this, we still lack a lot of information about their basic behavioural ecology. One area that is particularly lacking in data is mating behaviour. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes mate in aerial swarms. Males and females meet in midair, make mating choices, and mate over the course of seconds while flying. The sensory cues and particularly integration of these cues that allow them to accomplish this impressive feat are poorly understood. We have known since the 1940s that male mosquitoes use acoustic cues to locate females in chaotic mating swarms (1). More recent work has added an active role for females in acoustic interactions (2–6) and indicates that the characterises of acoustic duets between the flight tones of males and females influence mating outcomes. While there has been some advancement in our understanding of the mechanisms of male mosquito audition, how males and females integrate acoustic information, how other modalities come into play, and how both sexes are able to both participate in mating interactions involving wingbeat modulations and stay aloft remain open questions. In this project the student will investigate how mosquitoes integrate acoustic and visual cues to solve the physical problem of mating in flight and the biological challenge of assessing potential mates. Using a combination of slow motion videography and electrophysiology the student will dissect the relative importance of visual and acoustic stimuli for copula formation and flight control. These data will be integrated with computational modelling to understand the task-specific sensory integration involved in these behaviours.
Lauren Cator
Holger Krapp
Development of mathematical theory, Computing, Quantitative data analysis
Ibi Wallbank
The analyses of acoustic behaviour and computational modeling of sensory integration.
Both the biological and computational aspects of the project are at the cutting edges of their fields. Each PI is currently one of the world recognized leaders in developing techniques in these areas.
We are addressing several evolutionary theories. First, we are testing the idea of sensory bias in the evolution of courtship signals. Second, we will be testing hypotheses about the evolution of neural controls for sensory integration.
This work relates to implementation of reproductive control strategies for controlling diseases such as dengue and Zika. In addition, mosquito possess some of the most complex antennal ears known and this basic research into how they handle the inputs from their antennae with visual stimulation have potential implications for our understanding of sensory integration across the animal kingdom.
While some work has been done on the integration of chemical and visual signals for host-seeking, this study will be the only one to investigate how visual and acoustic cues are used in flight control and mating responses.
This project combines theory and methods from behavioural ecology, animal behaviour, insect physiology, control theory, and computational modelling. Dr. Cator is an expert in mosquito mating behaviour and the role of acoustics in mosquito mating responses. Professor Krapp is an expert in biological design principles in sensorimotor control.
Behavioural ecology, Environment and health, Environmental physiology
Through this project the student will acquire skills and experience in modelling, numeracy, and data management all of which are listed as NERC “Most Wanted Skills”. Additionally, the student will receive training in insect biology and neurophysiology.
Silwood Park, South Ken
2017-09-25 08:59:01