Community approaches to preventing mosquito-borne viruses


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Project overview

Background to project:

The UK is increasingly under threat from mosquito-borne diseases. In recent years two species (Aedes albopictus and Culex modestus) have invaded southeast England, and a Culex-borne virus (Usutu) has been detected in London and outside London. Usutu virus and the closely-related West Nile virus are circulating in neighbouring countries in mainland Europe. Significant research is underway to assess the risk presented to the UK from indigenous and exotic mosquitoes as vectors of viruses, and how this risk is expected to change with climate and environmental change. This project will investigate how people in the UK might mitigate the risk by taking action in their own gardens – removing the sites in which Culex mosquitoes breed.

Mosquitoes lay eggs in water and the juvenile stages are aquatic. It takes about a week for mosquito eggs to hatch and so, by covering outdoors water containers permanently or emptying them weekly, the mosquito breeding cycle is interrupted.

This project will investigate whether community willingness to control mosquitoes and its effectiveness in an urban region of the UK – Liverpool City and Birkenhead. A questionnaire survey will be used to ascertain the people’s attitude to, and knowledge of, mosquitoes in the UK. The region will be surveyed and households recruited to the study. For one summer we will implement controls in the households’ gardens and monitor the impact on mosquitoes; for a second summer we will monitor mosquitoes while the community undertake control.


Year 1: Undertake questionnaire-based survey. Survey urban environments around Merseyside for Cx pipiens. Recruit 60 households for further studies. Record breeding sites

Year 2: In 60 households, trap Cx pipiens for 3 nights per week over 10 weeks during summer. For half (i) remove all accessible breeding sites in the garden such as rain-filled buckets/pots etc; (ii) tightly cover water butts or treat to prevent mosquito breeding.

Year 3: For the 30 untreated sites, trial owners’ ability to control Culex pipiens. Owners will be given guidance on how to control Cx pipiens, we sample weekly, as per year 2.

This project is novel because while there has been significant research on the genetics, ecology and vector competence of Cx pipiens in the UK, there has been no research on its control. This project is potentially impactful, if it is shown that community-level control of breeding sites can impact on mosquito abundance,

This project is timely as, historically, the UK has not been considered at risk of mosquito-borne viruses but this is rapidly changing, with invasive species and a virus (Usutu) being transmitted in central London. The threat is growing rapidly and the UK urgently needs options for control in advance of a disease outbreak.

This project is supervised by Professor Matthew Baylis (

; X - @baylism) and Dr Marcus Blagrove (; ). It is supported by the Pandemic Institute:

If interested, please send questions to  and .

Essential and desirable criteria


  • Background in life sciences


  • Knowledge of entomology


How to apply

Notes and details of how to apply are available here:

All applicants to ACCE must complete the ACCE personal statement proforma. This is instead of a personal/supporting statement or cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not. Candidates should also submit a CV and the contact details of 2 referees.

Part-time study options

All ACCE PhDs are available as part time or full time, with part time being a minimum of 50% of full time. Please discuss potential part time arrangements with the primary supervisor before applying to the programme.

Project CASE status

This project is a CASE project. Your project will be co-supervised by the non-academic partner organisation, and you will spend 3-6 months on a placement with your CASE partner in their workplace. You will experience training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting, and will build business and research collaborations. Your CASE partner will also contribute an additional £1000 per year to your Research and Training Support Grant.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

NERC ACCE DTP programme starts from October 2024.
UKRI provide the following funding for 3.5 years:

  • Stipend (2023/24 UKRI rate £18,622)
  • Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2023/24 rate £4,712)
  • Research support and training grant (RTSG)

Note - UKRI funding only covers UK (Home) fees. The DTP partners have various schemes which allow international students to join the DTP but only be required to pay home fees. Home fees are already covered in the UKRI funding, meaning that successful international candidates do not need to find any additional funding for fees.



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3.Hernandez-Colina, A, González-Olvera M, Lomax E, Townsend F, Maddox A, Hesson JC, Sherlock K, Ward D, Eckley L, Vercoe M, Lopez J, Baylis M (2021). Blood-feeding ecology of mosquitoes in two zoological gardens in the United Kingdom. Parasites & Vectors 0.1186/s13071 021 04735 0

4.Chapman GE, Sherlock K, Hesson JC, Blagrove MSC, Lycett GJ, Archer D, Solomon T, Baylis M (2020). Laboratory transmission potential of British mosquitoes for equine arboviruses. Parasites & Vectors 10.1186/s13071-020-04285-x

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6.Metelmann S, Caminade C, Jones AE, Medlock JM, Baylis M and AP Morse (2019). The UK's suitability for Aedes albopictus in current and future climates. Journal of Royal Society Interface 16, 20180761,

7.Blagrove M, Sherlock K, Chapman G, Impoinvil D, McCall P, Medlock J, Lycett G, Solomon T, Baylis M (2016). Evaluation of the vector competence of a native UK mosquito Ochlerotatus detritus (Aedes detritus) for dengue, chikungunya and West Nile viruses. Parasites and Vectors 9: 452. 10.1186/s13071-016-1739-

8.Medlock, Jolyon M., and Steve A. Leach. "Effect of climate change on vector-borne disease risk in the UK." The Lancet Infectious Diseases 15.6 (2015): 721-730.