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Arthropod Genetics

Our group

The Arthropod Genetics group was formed in February 2014 when Prof Luke Alphey moved to Pirbright from Oxitec Ltd.  We are actively recruiting additional staff and students, collaborators, and funding sources to further enhance our scope and impact.

Our aims

We aim to use synthetic biology to create new, environmentally-friendly tools and strategies to reduce the harm caused by pest insects, especially mosquitoes.

Our research

We are interested in the application of cutting-edge insect synthetic biology to a range of real-world problems.  Projects include: the development of virus vectors (e.g. mosquitoes) less able to transmit specific viruses; the development of means to spread such traits through wild populations; the control of invasive insects for conservation biology purposes; mathematical modelling of the above and the development of necessary underpinning molecular and genetic methods to make it possible.  Funding sources include BBSRC, NERC, the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission.

Our impact

Pest insects cause enormous damage to agriculture, livestock and human health.  Insect synthetic biology can potentially provide effective, clean methods for controlling such pests while minimising off-target effects.  As well as developing such methods, Group personnel have worked with many stakeholders to develop regulatory, public engagement and commercialisation routes for these novel technologies.  This work has won numerous awards including BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2014.

Group members

Edgington M P, Alphey L S (2017)

Journal of Theoretical Biology 430, 128-140
Harvey-Samuel T, Ant T, Alphey L (2017)

Biological Invasions 19 (6), 1683-1703
Piaggio A J, Segelbacher G, Seddon P J, Alphey L, Bennett E L, Carlson R H, Friedman R M, Kanavy D, Phelan R, Redford K H, Rosales M, Slobodian L, Wheeler K (2017)

Trends in Ecology and Evolution 32 (2), 97-107
Alphey L (2016)

Nature Biotechnology 34 (2), 149-150
Publisher’s version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt.3473

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