The University of Georgia Black Fly Research and Resource Center secures funding
The University of Georgia Black Fly Research and Resource Center
The University of Georgia (UGA) Black Fly Rearing and Bioassay Laboratory has been awarded a contract with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to provide partial support for the world's only black fly colony. This support forms a collaborative effort between NIH/NIAID and the University of Georgia Entomology Department to continue the operation of this unique and one of a kind resource. Dr. Darold Batzer of the Entomology Department is the Principal Investigator for this funding effort with Dr. Danny Mead of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study being a Co-Principal Investigator and Elmer Gray being the Assistant Project Director. Dr. Ray Noblet, the former Entomology Department head, will serve as scientific advisor to the project. The current funding is for one year at $109,790 with a related task order value of $449,481 which would include the possibility of three years of renewal.
This laboratory has been in operation at UGA since 1999 when Dr. Noblet and the Laboratory Manager, Elmer Gray established the site upon relocating from Clemson University. The black fly colony is a unique resource that was initiated in 1981 at Cornell University. Black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) require flowing water to complete their life cycle. The colony simulates this environment with 9 aquatic rearing units that create miniature rivers for the larval and pupal stages to develop. Each unit can support approximately 300,000 larvae. Adult flies emerge within the rearing units and are captured, mated and provided moistened substrates to serve as egg laying sites. A particular advantage of Simulium vittatum cytospecies IS-7 is that they can deposit their first batch of eggs without a blood meal. Consequently, no animal resources are required to maintain the colony.
The colony has been used for a variety of research projects through the years including a wide range of vector transmission studies, environmental monitoring, vector control and larval feeding studies. The laboratory continues to conduct and collaborate in a wide range of research projects and can provide all stages of the black fly life cycle to collaborating laboratories. Current research being conducted in the laboratory involves larvicidal efficacy evaluations, topical repellent evaluations and growth studies related to climate change. The laboratory has also served as a preferred site for teaching and educational outreach visits for a wide range of students. This site will now operate as the NIH/NIAID supported Black Fly Research and Resource Center. The center will work in parallel with the NIH supported Filariasis Research Reagent Resource Center (FR3) that is operated through the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine under the direction of Dr. Andy Moorhead. The mission of FR3 is to provide filarial-related biological products to researchers across North America. The Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases also has a new program, “The SporoCore” which can provide mosquitoes infected with routine or custom strains of rodent malarias to various research groups across the US. These centers demonstrate the University of Georgia’s commitment to be a world leader in vector biology and disease transmission research.
Contact: Elmer Gray at ewgray [at] uga [dot] edu for information related to black flies, Dr. Andy Moorhead at amoorhed [at] uga [dot] edu for information related to filarial materials and Dr. Ash Pathak at ash1 [at] uga [dot] edu for information related to the mosquito/malarial material.
Photo credit: Ms. Jena Johnson