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.
We aim to use synthetic biology to create new, environmentally-friendly tools and strategies to reduce the harm caused by pest insects, especially mosquitoes.
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, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DARPA, and the Wellcome Trust.
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.