Scientists use machine-learning approach to track disease-carrying mosquitoes

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You might not like mosquitoes, but they like you, says Utah State University biologist Norah Saarman. And where you lead, they will follow.

In addition to annoying bites and buzzing, some mosquitoes carry harmful diseases. Aedes aegypti, the so-called Yellow Fever mosquito and the subject of a recent study by Saarman and colleagues, is the primary vector for transmission of viruses causing dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika, as well as yellow fever, in humans.

“Aedes aegypti is an invasive species to North America that’s become widespread in the eastern United States,” says Saarman, assistant professor in USU’s Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center, whose research focuses on evolutionary ecology and population genomics. “We’re examining the genetic connectivity of this species as it adapts to new landscapes and expands its range.”

With Evlyn Pless of the University of California, Davis and Jeffrey Powell, Andalgisa Caccone and Giuseppe Amatulli of Yale University, Saarman published findings from a machine-learning approach to mapping landscape connectivity in the February 22, 2021 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The team’s research was supported by the National Institutes of Health…

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