Andre Barretto Bruno Wilke, PhD
Post-Doctoral Associate in the Division of Environment and Public Health in the Department of Public Health Sciences
Supervisor: John C. Beier, ScD
Project 1: Understanding vector ecology, arbovirus infectious rates & insecticide resistance to optimize mosquito control
Specific Aim 1: Investigate Aedes Vector Ecology and Arbovirus Infection Rates in Miami-Dade County Urban Environments
Andre Barretto Bruno Wilke, PhD is a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Division of Environment and Public Health in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami. He has always been interested in studying vector borne disease transmission and mosquitoes are the number one cause of vector borne diseases in the world. Andre wanted a career in which he could make a difference studying the complexities and dynamics of mosquitoes. Andre completed his MSc and PhD in Brazil at the University of São Paulo in epidemiology. His research focused on the development and maintenance of transgenic strains of Culex quinquefasciatus to be used in mosquito suppression strategies based on the release of insects carrying dominant lethal genes (RIDL), and in the development of the population genetics profile of Culex quinquefasciatus in Brazil using microsatellite molecular markers.
During his time as a Post-Doctoral Associate at the University of São Paulo he developed a comprehensive study on the microgeographic population genetics of mosquito vectors in the megacity of São Paulo, Brazil. This study showed that native vector species such as, Aedes fluviatilis and Culex nigripalpus, have lost their genetic polymorphism and were not benefiting from urbanization. On the other hand, invasive species such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus showed signs of increased genetic polymorphism and of population demographic expansion primarily as a result of urban growth, highlighting the epidemiological significance of the association between urbanization processes and population structuring in vector mosquitoes.
In 2017, Andre moved to Miami to join the center of excellence as a Post-Doctoral Associate working with John Beier, ScD at the University of Miami. Their research works closely with Miami-Dade Mosquito Control to better understand Aedes aegypti ecology and provide scientific evidence to aid Miami-Dade Mosquito Control in the strategies they use to target this mosquito. The first project was focused on understanding how mosquitoes are exploring and thriving in urban habitats, and in the identifying drivers of species richness, composition, and abundance responsible for modulating their population dynamics. Andre’s work has focused on problematic urban environments such as construction sites, tire shops, urban farms, urban parks, and underserved neighborhoods to better understand how vector mosquito species are adapting to key features in the urban environment. The overall results show that the gradual decrease in species richness and subsequent increase in abundance of mosquito species capable of prospering in urban environments (in a non-random process of biodiversity loss) is directly impacting the risk of infectious disease transmission in urban areas. Therefore, it is critical to determine how the community composition and abundance of mosquitoes are being modulated by different habitats in the urban environments to help inform, guide, and improve mosquito control operations.
Through working with Miami-Dade Mosquito Control, they were also able to establish larval surveillance systems. By identifying where mosquitoes are breeding they better understand how this species of mosquito was using the urban environment and where they were initially coming from. Here are some examples of places they studied:
Click here to view a video of bromeliad sampling
Even in Southern Florida dengue is a big threat, there were 14 locally transmitted cases last year in Miami, and long term funding is important to prevent outbreaks. If we are preventive we can hopefully find ways to prevent the increase of cases in the future.
Andre is guest editor for Insects special issue “Vector-Borne Diseases in a Changing World” and they are looking for authors to submit papers. To learn more about this special issue: click here
Global increases in temperatures and urbanization are impacting the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases, resulting in severe outbreaks, even in formerly non-endemic areas. In recent years, we have seen a rise in the outbreaks of infectious diseases, including the ones transmitted by mosquito vectors. Lately, we have seen environmental crimes devastating natural areas of the world, leading to an environmental disequilibrium and biodiversity loss of unprecedented proportions. The worsening of the ecological imbalance caused by anthropogenic alterations in the environment will impact the range and abundance of mosquito vectors and, consequently, the incidence of vector-borne diseases. It is essential to understand how vector mosquitoes are adapting and thriving in urban environments to guide and improve future mosquito management and control and strategies.
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1. Wilke ABB, Vasquez C, Carvajal A, Moreno M, Diaz Y, Belledent T, Gibson L, Petrie WD, Fuller DO, Beier JC. Cemeteries in Miami-Dade County, Florida are important areas to be targeted in mosquito management and control efforts. PLoS One. 2020; 15: e0230748.
2. Wilke ABB, Carvajal A, Vasquez C, Petrie WD, Beier JC. Urban farms in Miami-Dade County, Florida have favorable environments for vector mosquitoes. PLoS One. 2020; 15: e0230825.
3. Multini LC, Wilke ABB, Marrelli MT. Neotropical Anopheles (Kerteszia) mosquitoes associated with bromeliad-malaria transmission in a changing world. Acta Trop. 2020; 105413.
4. Benelli G, Wilke ABB, Beier JC. Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito). Trends Parasitol. 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.pt.2020.01.001.
5. Wilke ABB, Benelli G, Beier JC. Beyond frontiers: on invasive alien mosquito species in America and Europe. PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease. 2020. 14(1): e0007864.