Abstract: In this study we compared the utility of two molecular biology techniques, cloning of the mitochondrial 12S ribosomal RNA gene and hydrolysis probe-based qPCR, to identify blood meal sources of sylvatic Chagas disease insect vectors collected with live-bait mouse traps (also known as Noireau traps). Fourteen T. guasayana were collected from six georeferenced trap locations in the Andean highlands of the department of Chuquisaca, Bolivia. We detected four blood meals sources with the cloning assay: seven samples were positive for human (Homo sapiens), five for chicken (Gallus gallus) and unicolored blackbird (Agelasticus cyanopus), and one for opossum (Monodelphis domestica). Using the qPCR assay we detected chicken (13 vectors), and human (14 vectors) blood meals as well as an additional blood meal source, Canis sp. (4 vectors). We show that cloning of 12S PCR products, which avoids bias associated with developing primers based on a priori knowledge, detected blood meal sources not previously considered and that species-specific qPCR is more sensitive. All samples identified as positive for a specific blood meal source by the cloning assay were also positive by qPCR. However, not all samples positive by qPCR were positive by cloning. We show the power of combining the cloning assay with the highly sensitive hydrolysis probe-based qPCR assay provides a more complete picture of blood meal sources for insect disease vectors.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).