Our lab undertakes research on adaptation of organisms (particularly invertebrates) to environmental stresses including climate change and chemical pollutants, using field sites in the Victorian mountains, in tropical rainforests and in wetlands around Melbourne. We also develop integrated pest control options, investigate how landscape changes can be harnessed to provide pest control services, contribute to novel approaches for suppressing dengue mosquito vectors, and examine new ways to predict species distribution shifts under climate change.
We focus on three main areas of research:
- Climatic Stress – to find traits that enable adaptation to climatic stress, and to understand the genetic basis of these traits;
- Applied – to develop better ways of sustainably controlling pest species important from an agricultural perspective.
- Applied – to explore new ways of reducing the transmission of human diseases by insect vectors based on endosymbionts.
In understanding the main issues and mechanisms involved with adaptation of organisms to stress, we are able to make informed management decisions to assist the community and industry.
Molecular population markers, ecological assessments, pesticide assays, quantitative genetic analyses, molecular species markers and entomological sampling.
Improving mosquito control strategies with population genomics
Words: Tom Schmidt When researchers want to investigate evolutionary processes like adaptation and dispersal, they frequently make use of population genomic methods. Population genomics uses DNA data from across an organism’s entire genome – that is, across all of that organism’s DNA. This DNA data can be compared with DNA from other organisms, which can help shed light on their shared …28 June, 2021 mosquitoes, Aed...
Fly infertility shows we’re underestimating how badly climate change harms animals
Belinda van Heerwaarden, The University of Melbourne and Ary Hoffmann, The University of Melbourne Evidence of declining fertility in humans and wildlife is growing. While chemicals in our environment have been identified as a major cause, our new research shows there’s another looming threat to animal fertility: climate change. We know animals can die when temperatures rise to extremes they cannot endure. …10 June, 2021 genetics, evolu...
Variety is the spice of life… and key to saving wildlife
“This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article.” Dr Andrew Weeks and Professor Ary Hoffmann In the critical battle against extinction, conservationists use a variety of tactics to try to save species. One of the most fundamental tools is maintaining the amount of variation of genetic material (DNA) in a group of animals - this is described as their “genetic …10 June, 2021 genetics, evolu...
Male fertility ‘precariously close’ to climate change extinction limits
The loss of fertility in males as a result of climate change, particularly in the tropics, may be a better predictor of vulnerability to extinction by Dr Belinda van Heerwaarden This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article As temperatures rise across the globe, species will increasingly face environmental conditions beyond their tolerance limits, posing a major risk to biodiversity, …30 April, 2021 evolution, cons...
The complexities of predicting climate change effects
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article. Words: Dr James Camac, Nicholas Bell and Professor Ary Hoffmann We currently face significant challenges to accurately predict the impacts of our changing climate on individual species, as well as their ecosystems. A recent report on the demise of an area of snow gums in the Kosciuszko and Namadgi National Parks highlights …31 March, 2021 conservation, f...
Graduate researcher life in lockdown(s)
Words and images: Véronique Paris and Christin Manthey Illustraions: Marianne Coquilleau Doing a PhD in science is a challenge in itself. Developing and managing your own project, learning to be a “real” research scientist rather than a student, working on experiments, collecting data, applying for funding ... that’s all part of the deal. However, 2020 added another flavour into the mix – …27 October, 2020 mosquitoes, gen...
A self-spreading bacterial infection in an agricultural pest that stops the pest from spreading plant viruses
Words: Ary Hoffmann Banner image: Natasha Wright, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. In Asia, one of the most damaging pests of rise is the brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens. This pest damages plants directly but more importantly it acts as a vector for damaging plant viruses, including the “rice ragged stunt virus” (RRSV). This virus cannot spread by itself but relies …9 October, 2020 endosymbionts, ...
Uninvited guests in your groceries
Words, illustraions and photos: Marianne CoquilleauMarianne Coquilleau With spring coming our way, gardens come to life and with it their many inhabitants. It’s no surprise then to find small caterpillars, aphids and other insects while washing your vegetables and fruits, especially if you source your vegetables locally or pesticide-free sources. You might then also notice some little lines on your leafy …17 September, 2020 pests, Integrat...
Finished, but not yet free
Words by Samantha Ward & Marianne Coquilleau Illustrations by Marianne Coquilleau Photographs by Samantha Ward UPDATE - Samantha & Marianne have been interviewed on radio stations 2SER and The Pulse about their journey LINK 2SER || LINK The Pulse Concluding the postgraduate journey Covid-19 has shaken up the world as we know it. Everyone has been affected in some capacity, either in a personal or …8 September, 2020 Agriculture, In...
The resistance advantage – a field genetic background is important for survival of our Wolbachia mosquitoes in Malaysia and reduction of dengue
Banner image: Nancy with scientists from the Wolbachia dengue program at the Institute for Medical Research, Ministry of Health, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Words and photos: Nancy M. Endersby-Harshman Our paper published two weeks ago in Insects is the result of a research collaboration between PEARG at the University of Melbourne, the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Ministry of Health situated in Kuala …28 August, 2020 mosquitoes, end...
The grasshopper that was lost, then found, is now endangered
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article. By Professor Ary Hoffmann, Vanessa White and Professor Michael Kearney The Key’s Matchstick Grasshopper, or the Keyacris scurra, was once widespread and abundant in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and north-central Victoria, but over the past century its numbers have seriously declined. So much so that in NSW, it has …21 August, 2020 conservation, t...
Targeting the bacteria inside insects for improved pest management
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article Francesca Noakes and Professor Ary Hoffmann Any home gardener knows of the long-running battle against insect pests. The little critters that sneak into your garden beds and strip leaves are irritating among prized kale, but for farmers these tiny pests can have devastating economic impacts. In the Australian grains industry, insect pests are …21 August, 2020 endosymbionts, ...
Tracking the movement of mosquito stowaways
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article Dr Tom Schmidt Everyone knows mosquitoes can fly. Not everyone knows they fly in pressurised cabins 10,000 metres above the ocean. In fact, many of the most dangerous mosquito species get flown all over the world in aeroplanes, or travel on boats or other vehicles. These days there are more plane and …5 August, 2020 mosquitoes, gen...
New Pursuit article – Have resistance, will travel
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article here. Authors: Dr Nancy Endersby-Harshman, Dr Qiong Yang, Dr Tom Schmidt and Professor Ary Hoffmann Around the world, pest insects – like mosquitoes – often become resistant to the insecticides meant to control them, causing problems for agriculture and public health. Resistance in multiple populations of a species might be due to independent …28 May, 2020 Aedes aegypti, ...
The life of a mosquito – claymation by Perran Ross
12 May, 2020 mosquitoes, Aed...
Moshe Jasper: Humans of BioSciences
Meet Moshe Jasper, Research Assistant in PEARG. Moshe shares what inspired him to become a scientist and what he wishes he had known when he was an undergraduate student. What is it like to work in PEARG ? The Pest & Environmental Adaptation Research Group undertakes research on adaptation of organisms (particularly invertebrates) to environmental stresses. As a Research Assistant I do …24 April, 2020 genetics, Agric...
What can cattle teach us about evolution?
Ary Hoffmann Charles Darwin in his On the Origin of Species used data from domestic animals to argue for the power of natural selection in changing phenotypes. These included examples from birds and dogs as well as livestock. The latter having been selected across many years to increase productive yields such as milk and meat. A global industry has grown up …17 April, 2020 genetics, Agric...
Looking for a funded PhD or MPhil scholarship?
The Australian Grains Pest Innovation Program (AGPIP) is offering 4 fully funded scholarships at the University of Melbourne for potential PhD or MPhil students interested in cutting-edge science, environmental sustainability and agricultural innovation. AGPIP is a collaboration between the PEARG and cesar. The program is aimed at improving the sustainability of invertebrate pest management practices among Australian grain growers through the development …6 April, 2020 endosymbionts, ...
How do we protect our unique biodiversity from megafires?
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article. Authors: Dr James Camac, Nicholas Bell and Professor Ary Hoffmann This summer’s devastating Australian fires and their continuing impact on biodiversity serve as a stark reminder of the challenges in nature conservation as we head into an increasingly volatile future driven by climate change. It is no longer sufficient to protect land …21 February, 2020 genetics, evolu...
New publication: Ecological impacts of pesticides and their mitigation within IPM systems
Pest control is recognised as an important part of crop production. Against a background of increasing concern for chemical impacts on the environment, Integrated Pest Management programs have been developed where chemical application and natural enemy enhancement work together to maintain productivity with reduced environmental impact. Such programs require good science, general theory and strong linkages between science and management. …19 February, 2020 pests, Agricult...
Dengue-blocking bacteria endure the heat
“This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article.” Dr Perran Stott-Ross and Professor Ary Hoffmann Bushfires. Coral bleaching. Heatwaves. These disastrous events are a harsh reality in Australia. And they’re only going to become more frequent and severe with climate change. Last year, 2019, was Australia’s hottest year ever recorded, and records will continue to be broken. Climate change will …24 January, 2020 mosquitoes, end...
Wolbachia infections in Aedes aegypti: The ‘Bigfoot’ of endosymbionts
Words: Perran Ross Wolbachia are endosymbiotic bacteria found within the cells of many insects, from butterflies and bees to cockroaches and dung beetles. Wolbachia are so common because they often provide their insect hosts with an advantage, aiding their spread through populations. Whether an insect carries Wolbachia is an important question, especially if they’re a pest or vector. Wolbachia can affect host …21 January, 2020 mosquitoes, wol...
With great power comes great responsibility…
Words: Samantha Ward Images: Words: Samantha Ward & Marianne Coquilleau Flying the flag for the PEARG lab! [Photo credit: Marianne Coquilleau] I am a scientist. A taxonomist, to be more specific. Taxonomy is the study of naming, defining, and categorising organisms. There’s a job for that?! Actually, we still have no idea how many species are on Earth! There could be between 5.3 million …19 December, 2019 pests, Agricult...
Sampling by the sea – collecting mosquitoes in the Mornington Peninsula
Words and images: Véronique Paris It’s 7.30 Saturday morning – what are your plans for the day? While you may be still in bed contemplating a coffee, or still sound asleep, I’m packing the PEARG ute with a stack of small buckets, strips of red felt, some rabbit food, and a 20lt jerrycan of water. I perform the usual safety checks, …11 December, 2019 mosquitoes, gen...
Ary featured in Grains Research and Development Corporation video: Redlegged Earth Mite – resistance evolution
https://youtu.be/OlGolokmwEs9 December, 2019 News
Jessica Chung – bioinformatician, data wrangler
Words: Tim Thwaites, Science writer Banner image credit Casamento Photography Tracking disease-carrying mosquitoes, helping to conserve mountain pygmy possums, stopping the spread of dengue fever, studying how insects develop resistance to pesticides—solving such disparate biological problems nowadays depends on being able to handle enormous quantities of genomic data. And that’s why they land on the desk of Jessica Chung.As a bioinformatician her …2 December, 2019 News
Variability in mosquito host-seeking ability
Words and images: Meng-Jia Lau Behaviour is one of the most complex study areas in biology because it involves a combination of many factors that are often quite variable. In mosquitoes, host-seeking is the behaviour of females seeking a blood meal which provides the extra protein they need in order to lay eggs. The biting process not only makes people feel itchy, …28 November, 2019 wolbachia, Aede...
Faster and cheaper without compromising quality
Words: Nick Bell When our scientific endeavours leave the lab and move into real-world deployment, a number of challenges crop up. Aside from obvious issues around myriad variables that cannot be controlled as they can in the lab, large scale logistical and financial considerations need to be made when rolling out new operations. This scaling issue becomes acutely important where a …22 November, 2019 News
Finding “Nosy Tiger’s” and other oddly named freshwater invertebrates
Words - Eddie Tsrline Images - Eddie Tsyrlin and John Gooderham Towbiters, water scorpions and Nosy Tigers. These are just some the colourful names given to freshwater insects and other invertebrates. And there is a more serious side to these quirky creatures. The Nosy Tigers are a diving beetle larva with a peculiarly elongated head. Their main interest in life is to voraciously …22 November, 2019 taxonomy, aquat...
Establishment of Wolbachia Strain wAlbB in Malaysian Populations of Aedes aegypti for Dengue Control
Our freshly published open access paper in Current Biology is the culmination of several years of work with a large team of very talented and dedicated researchers. Rather than rehash the story here, please see press releases below: Press release from the UniMelb newsroom (alternatively at Bio21's siteBio21's site or at SciMex) Brief summary article in Cosmos magazine Interview with Ary …22 November, 2019 mosquitoes, wol...
Lab-reared mosquitoes maintain their lust for blood
Words and images: Perran Ross Modified mosquitoes raised in laboratories are being released into the wild in disease control programs. These mosquitoes will still bite you, but they’re less capable of transmitting the viruses that cause dengue fever, Zika and more. This antiviral effect is caused by infection with a bacterium called Wolbachia, which occurs naturally in most insect species. This …7 November, 2019 mosquitoes, wol...
Getting revegetation right with genetics
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article. Professor Ary Hoffmann Eucalypts, wattles, banksias, grevilleas and other Australian native plants are some of the most fascinating and unique flora on Earth. They also play an important part in revegetation programs around Australia, which aim to restore plant-life to areas where the species used to grow, before activities like agriculture, forestry, …22 October, 2019 News
Words: Véronique Paris Cover image art: © Marianne Coquilleau & Butterfly Adventures Almost every child is familiar with the famous story ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, illustrating the transformation of an unremarkable hungry caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. What exactly takes place within the pupal cocoon during the transformation remains a mystery. The scientific definition of this dramatic change is known as ‘complete …23 September, 2019 News
Rediscovering a ‘lost’ species
This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article. Associate Professor Michael Kearney and Professor Ary Hoffmann People usually go to cemeteries to visit or bury their dead but, in the name of research, we visited 25 cemeteries in Victoria, NSW and the ACT to try and find a tiny rare species of grasshopper thought to be extinct in …19 September, 2019 conservation, t...
Releases of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes for disease control
Words and images: Perran Ross When animals raised in captivity are released back into the wild, you might picture cute and furry mammals from an endangered species. But in many countries around the world, people are releasing mosquitoes raised in laboratories into the environment. These mosquitoes feed on human blood and are vectors of dengue, Zika and other diseases, so it …18 September, 2019 mosquitoes, wol...
Using bacteria to control mosquitoes Dr Tom Schmidt and Professor Ary Hoffmann “This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article.” Living inside the cells of insects is a type of bacteria that is looking increasingly like the key to controlling the spread of dengue fever, the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. The Wolbachia bacteria, which occurs naturally in about half …18 July, 2019 mosquitoes, wol...
Using genomics to determine the adaptive potential of populations
Words: Ary Hoffmann One of the central tenets of conservation biology is that high levels of genetic variation in natural populations is important for their long-term survival. High levels of variation allow populations to adapt to changing environments through evolution. This process is now recognised as being extremely fast when selection pressures are high. In fact many populations of animals and …27 June, 2019 genetics, evolu...
MSc projects 2020 – Students wanted
We are seeking motivated MSc students to apply for several projects starting next year. Enquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org Project 1/4: Exploring bacterial symbionts for agricultural pest control PEARG is researching ways to control important agricultural pests such as aphids and mites that cause millions of dollars in damage to crops each year in Australia. This project will involve testing the potential for endosymbiotic …14 June, 2019 mosquitoes, wol...
Cracking the kinship code: Measuring animal dispersal across generations with DNA
NEW paper! Dispersal is a key component of the ecology and evolution of animal populations. It allows animals to colonize new habitats, escape deteriorating conditions, and locate mates. When animals disperse and breed successfully in new habitats that are already occupied by the same species, there will be an exchange of genes. This exchange is essential in maintaining the health of …31 May, 2019 genetics, Aedes...
Stowaway mozzies enter Australia from Asian holiday spots – and they’re resistant to insecticides
Original article published on The Conversation Words: Tom Schmidt, Andrew Weeks, and Ary Hoffmann We might not be able to use common insecticides to kill mosquitoes that arrive from other countries. from www.shutterstock.com Planning a trip to the tropics? You might end up bringing home more than just a tan and a towel. Our latest research looked at mosquitoes that travel as secret stowaways on …26 March, 2019 Aedes aegypti, ...
New open access paper: Morphological and molecular analysis of Australian earwigs (Dermaptera) points to unique species and regional endemism in the Anisolabididae family
Words and images: Oliver Stuart Link to open access paper Earwigs (Dermaptera) are a challenging group of insects to study. In Australia, earwigs are variously known as pests, predators of pests (so, beneficial insects), or both at once depending on the crop type and other particulars. The invasive Forficula auricularia (the European earwig) is the most common pest, but we also have …15 March, 2019 genetics, pests...
The insect apocalypse
A recent review paper in Biological Conservation by Francisco Sánchez-Bayoa and Kris Wyckhuys has sparked considerable media attention on the plight of insects and the need to conserve them. In amongst the noise, PEARGs own Linda Thomson was interviewed by The New Daily about what you can do in your own back yard to help.21 February, 2019 News
Sterile mosquito release leads to 80% population knock-down in Singapore
The National Environment Agency of Singapore released Wolbachia infected male mosquitoes last April in order to suppress the local population. The field study has been a fantastic success with an 80% population reduction achieved in the last nine months. Ary is a member of Singapore's Dengue Expert Advisory Programme, providing expertise and guidance for the program. Read more about it …6 February, 2019 Aedes aegypti, ...
With temperature records being smashed around Australia people are paying ever more attention to climate change. As Adelaide has set a new record maximum temperature ABC's Adelaide reporter Malcolm Sutton interviewed Ary for an article, loosely based around our open access review in Austral Ecology25 January, 2019 News
An adventure in Alice at the AES conference 2018
Header photo: Marianne Coquilleau, Samantha Ward, Xuan Cheng, Josh Douglas, Tom Schmidt and Oliver Stuart Words: Oliver Stuart and Samantha Ward Introduction This past September was the 49th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Australian Entomological Society (AES). The Society publishes an Australia-focused journal and maintains, through its membership, a network of professional and student entomologists. Every year the network …8 January, 2019 Agriculture, ta...
A long way to go for a small species
Words: Daronja Trense Images: Daronja Trense & Klaus Fischer One of the projects of my PhD is to investigate the genetic connectivity of the Copper butterfly (Lycaena tityrus) in the Ötzvalley of the European Alps. In summer 2018, we collected 186 butterflies to understand how the geological structure of the valley has influences the genetic constitution of L. tityrus. PEARG provided me the …19 December, 2018 News
How to Tackle the Climatic Threats to Australia’s Eco-System | Ary interviewed on 102.7 3RRR
Please follow this link to Ary's recent interview on Three Triple R FM4 December, 2018 News
Living a life of luxury in the laboratory
Words and images: Perran Ross Mosquitoes in the wild live it rough. Adult females risk being swatted as they search for a blood meal and their larval progeny must fend off predators and compete for limited resources. When we want to study mosquitoes under controlled conditions we bring them into the laboratory, but these conditions often don’t reflect their natural environment. …29 November, 2018 News
NEW PUBLICATION | Impacts of recent climate change on terrestrial flora and fauna: Some emerging Australian examples
Words: Nick Bell Header image: Johan Larson, Department of Tropical Biology, James Cook University Together with a team of experts from across Australia, PEARG has recently published an open access review in Austral Ecology. The review outlines eight case studies which demonstrate the effects of climate change on the nation’s native flora and fauna. We’ve also put together a summary article …22 November, 2018 News
Collecting Rhynchosciara: an important fly in the history of genetics
Words and images: Ann Stocker Rhynchosciara species are endemic to South and Central America. The larvae are readily observed because they are a centimeter or more in length, usually reddish in colour and travel in groups of dozens to hundreds of individuals (Fig 1). However, they only came to the attention of biologists after Crodowaldo Pavan, a Professor at the University …6 November, 2018 genetics, labor...
HONORARY & VISITING MEMBERS
|Heng Lin Yeap|
|Eddie Tsyrlin | PhD Candidate|
|Jiaxin Liang | MSc Student|
|Marianne Coquilleau | MPhil Candidate|
|Mengjia Liu | PhD Candidate|
|Samantha Ward | PhD Candidate|
|Véronique Paris | PhD Candidate|
|Xuefen Xu | PhD Candidate|
PREVIOUS HOFFMANN SUPERVISED GRADUATE STUDENTS
2018 Xuan Cheng | PhD
2018 Perran Ross | PhD
2018 Ellen Cottingham | MsC
2018 Tom Schmidt | PhD
2017 Rahul Rane | PhD
2017 Rebecca Jordan | PhD
2017 Bryant Gagliardi | PhD
2017 Megan Hirst | PhD
2017 Peter Kriesner | PhD
2017 Peter Mee | PhD
2016 Michele Johnstone | MPhil
2016 Lihsin Wua | PhD
2015 Rhys Coleman | PhD
2015 Valentina Colombo | PhD
2015 Rachel Slatyer | PhD
2015 Katy Jeppe | PhD
2014 Heng Lin Yeap | PhD
2014 James Camac | PhD
2014 Ian Smith | PhD
2013 Kallie Townsend | PhD
2013 Jess M’Baya | PhD
2012 Purabi Ghosh | MPhil
2012 Matt Hill | PhD
2012 Elise Furlan | PhD
2011 Phillipa Griffin | PhD
2011 Sarah de Garis | MPhil
2011 Kate Mitchell | PhD
2010 Lauren Carrington | PhD
2010 Adrian Rakimov | PhD
2010 John Roberts | PhD
2010 Aston Arthur | PhD
2009 Gareth Holmes | PhD
2009 Warsito | PhD
2009 Cheeseng Chong | PhD
2008 Isabel Valenzuela | PhD
2008 Vanessa Kellermann | PhD
2008 Sean Byars | PhD
2008 Belinda Van Heerwaarden | PhD
2007 Paul Mitrovski | PhD
2007 Michael Nash | PhD
2007 David Sharley | PhD
2006 Nicole Bone | MPhil
2006 Vin Pettigrove | PhD
2006 Melissa Carew | PhD
2006 Lea Rako | PhD
2006 Marina Telonis-Scott | PhD
2005 Martina Bernard | PhD
2005 Michelle Schiffer | PhD
2005 Karen Herbert | PhD
2005 Mark Kellett | PhD
2005 Nancy Endersby | PhD
2004 Paul Umina | PhD
2004 Brad Rundle | PhD
2004 Claire Milton | PhD
2003 Angela Corrie | PhD
2003 Tracy Reynolds | PhD
2003 Andrea Magiafoglou | PhD
2003 Chantelle Sinclair | PhD
2003 Ursula Kolliker-Otte | PhD
2002 David Bennett | PhD
2001 Michelle Robinson | PhD
2000 Andrew Weeks | PhD
2000 Linda J. Thomson | PhD
1999 Nicole C. Jenkins | PhD
1999 Richard Woods | PhD
1999 Miriam Hercus | PhD
1998 Tracey Bjorksten | PhD
1998 David Clancy | PhD
1998 DeAnn C. Glenn | PhD
1997 Carla M. Sgrò | PhD
1995 Marcus Watson | MPhil
1989 Mark W. Blows | PhD