P1.025E Post-graduate project : Odwell Muzari : Ecological, behavioural and reproductive aspects of Tabanidae (Diptera) affecting their potential as vectors of Trypanosoma evansi in Queensland
Animal Trypanosomosis (surra), caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma evansi, is mechanically transmitted between infected and uninfected animals on the mouthparts of female tabanids (also called March flies or horse flies) as they take blood meals which they need mainly for egg development. The disease can affect a wide range of domestic and wild animals in many parts of the world and can be an important constraint to livestock productivity.
Surra is endemic throughout southeast Asia, and is considered a major threat to Australia, where an incursion could have devastating effects on livestock production, companion animals and native masurpials. It is however, not possible to formulate any effective disease preparedness strategy at the moment because there are more than 30 tabanid species in Queensland alone, and yet their relative capacity as vectors of T. evansi is not known. Generally each tabanid species is unique in its ecology, feeding behaviour, host preference, daily activity pattern, reproduction and hence its potential role in the epidemiology of Animal Trypanosomosis.
The proposed project will provide valuable information on the vectorial capacity of some of the Australian tabanid species, and make recommendations that are needed for surveillance programs, predictive models and intervention strategies. This information will be obtained through direct field-based observations of host-vector interaction, sampling in different ecological conditions, laboratory identification of host blood in tabanid abdomen and ovarian dissection to interpret tabanid reproductive cycle and changes in population structure.