MSc projects 2020 – Students wanted

We are seeking motivated MSc students to apply for several projects starting next year. Enquiries via pearg-queries@unimelb.edu.au


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 bacteria such as Wolbachia that live inside insect cells to suppress or modify populations of pest insects. Our goal is to develop new and novel sustainable pest control options to replace insecticides.

Skills you may learn:

  • Insect collection and fieldwork
  • Species identification
  • Insect rearing
  • Experimental design
  • Microinjection
  • DNA and RNA extraction
  • Quantitative PCR

Project 2/4: Characterising Wolbachia infections in mosquitoes  

Mosquitoes modified with Wolbachia bacteria are being released around the world to reduce dengue transmission. PEARG is working as part of an international team to develop, implement and improve this technology.

This project will involve characterising the effects of Wolbachia strains in mosquitoes investigating their potential to control dengue transmission in different environments.

Skills you may learn:

  • Mosquito trapping
  • Mosquito rearing
  • Fitness and behavioural assays
  • Experimental design
  • DNA extraction and PCR
  • Vector competence
  • Embryonic microinjection

Project 3/4: Understanding environmental effects of antibiotics on Wolbachia mosquitoes

PEARG works on international projects to establish Wolbachia mosquitoes in the field as a dengue reduction measure. Understanding effects of environmental stressors such as antibiotic contamination on these mosquitoes is of paramount importance to the success of the program.

This project will involve laboratory experiments on live Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to characterise effects of antibiotics on Wolbachia titre of different life stages.

Skills you may learn:

  • Mosquito rearing
  • Experimental design and analysis
  • DNA extraction
  • PCR (probe-based, droplet digital)
  • PCR optimisation
  • LAMP assays

Project 4/4: Fine-scale investigations of mosquitoes in the Mornington Peninsula

PEARG is working as part of an interdisciplinary team to beat Buruli ulcer, a common disease in southern Victoria that can be spread by mosquitoes.

This project will involve collecting Aedes notoscriptus mosquitoes from the Mornington Peninsula in 2020, and investigating their spatial population structure and how it compares with collections conducted in 2019.

Skills you may learn:

  • Mosquito trapping and fieldwork
  • Mosquito rearing
  • DNA extraction and processing
  • GIS mapping
  • Spatial analysis and modelling
  • Population biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Insecticide resistance evolution

Enquiries via pearg-queries@unimelb.edu.au


One Response to “MSc projects 2020 – Students wanted”

  1. Daudi Mwampamba says:

    Project 1/4: Exploring bacterial symbionts for agricultural pest control