Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Research: ticks, biting flies, West Nile virus, Lyme disease, arthropod-borne diseases
Cross-border shopping isn’t really of interest to Fiona Hunter. She’s more intrigued by the phenomenon of cross-border biting.
Hunter’s research involves studying the behaviour of mosquitoes and ticks. As one of the few medical entomologists in Canada, she is particularly interested in the role that biting flies and ticks play in the spread of diseases.
As a result of climate change, new species of biting arthropods are making their way north. Brock University’s proximity to the U.S. border puts it in a unique position to conduct research into the diseases that insects and ticks may be bringing with them into Canada. The Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex’s Level 3 Containment Laboratory will be home to one of only two Level 3 insectiaries in Canada, which will enable this cutting-edge research.
Hunter’s recent research findings include helping identify the species of mosquito that transmits West Nile virus and determining that the type of sugar meal a mosquito eats influences its likelihood of transmitting malaria. Her graduate students study a range of interesting projects, including the relationship between altitude and malaria transmission in mosquitoes, how certain sugar diets enhance insect immunity to parasites and how feeding choices impact mosquito reproduction.
Hunter is particularly proud of her research team and looks forward to the enhanced research capability that the new home in the Cairns Family Health and Bioscience Research Complex will allow.