Ecology of emerging arboviruses

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Project Summary

Vector-borne infections account for about one fifth of all infectious diseases. Especially mosquito-borne viruses that often originate in tropical areas manage to spread to new hosts or new geographic regions with relative ease. However, our knowledge of arbovirus diversity, evolution, and geographic spread is mainly based on epidemic variants. To fill critical gaps in our knowledge on pre-epidemic viruses and viral emergence, we will characterize arbovirus diversity along tropical disturbance gradients to document and dissect microevolutionary processes in viral habitat expansion.

The overall aims of the group are:

  • to provide a comprehensive sample of mosquitoes from ecologically undisturbed and adjacent disturbed habitats in three main tropical rainforest ecosystem types occurring in Africa. We will characterise the true taxonomic diversity of arthropod-associated viruses including novel prototypic deep lineages still existing in natural ecosystems using state of the art methods;
  • to identify the interplay between host community composition and viral emergence processes using mosquito-associated viruses as a multi-host and multi-pathogen system; and
  • to analyse whether and how arbovirus emergence is driven by positive selection involving fitness gains of emergent strains using genetic and phenotypic viral population studies.

Taken together we will obtain the first comprehensive assessment of viral microevolution during emergence in a real-world scenario.

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Junglen 01KI1716)


PD Dr. Sandra Junglen

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

E-Mail: sandra.junglen(at)

Tel. +49 (0)30 450 525 488


  • Dr. Benon Assiimwe, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
  • Dr. Dennis A. Bente, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA
  • Dr. Eric Bergeron, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, United States
  • Prof. Christian Borgemeister, Centre for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn, Germany
  • Dr. Thomas Gillespie, Emory University, Atlanta, USA
  • Prof. John Mfune, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
  • Prof. Bernhard Misof, Centre for Molecular Biodiversity Research (ZMB), Bonn, Germany
  • PD Dr. Lars Podsiadlowski, Institut für Evolutionsbiologie und Zooökologie, Universität Bonn, Bonn, Germany
  • Dr. Innocent Rwego, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
  • Prof. Rosemary Sang, Kenya Medical Research Insitute (KEMRI), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Prof. Simone Sommer, University of Ulm
  • Dr. David Tchouassi, International Centre of Insect Phsyiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Prof. Baldwyn Torto, International Centre of Insect Phsyiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Prof. Marco Tschapka, University of Ulm
  • Prof. Dr. Ronald Van Rij, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, the Netherlands