DYnamicS of Infection in Insular ecoSytems

Our team seeks to understand the dynamics of infectious agents within ecosystems, particularly among animal reservoirs of both native and introduced wildlife, and their transmission by invertebrate vectors like mosquitoes and ticks. This investigation occurs within the framework of global environmental changes.

Our team focuses on two research questions :
- transmission dynamics in natural wildlife populations
- microbial interactions in vector-borne systems

Host ecology, vector biology and human exposure

Our team conducts interdisciplinary research on animal reservoirs and vectors in island ecosystems, studying species behavior (e.g. phenology, migration, diet) and physiology (e.g. microbiome, stress, immunity), with a focus on spatiotemporal monitoring of natural populations and experimental lab infections. Our model species include a wide range of vertebrates (birds, small terrestrial mammals, bats) and invertebrates (mosquitoes, ticks, fleas). Human clinical research emphasizes infection pathophysiology through cohort studies. Research study sites include Indian Ocean islands (La Réunion, Mayotte, Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Eparses islands) and mainland African countries (Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania).

A focus on multiple infectious agents

Our study models include several medically relevant infectious agents for humans, including arboviruses (Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika), as well as influenza viruses, paramyxoviruses, and coronaviruses (including SARS-CoV-2). We also investigate bacteria such as Leptospira, Yersinia, Bartonella, and Rickettsia, along with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Sample banks are analyzed on-site in La Réunion using biosafety level 2 and 3 laboratories and tools for molecular biology, serology, virology, and sequencing. Experimental infections also allow us to measure mosquito vector competence, as well as host specificity and virulence of infectious agents.

A multidisciplinary approach

We use phylogeography and population genetics methods to decipher the diversity and evolutionary history of host communities and their infectious agents in island ecosytems. We analyze mechanisms of host shift in relation to ecosystem modifications and human practices. Epidemiological and genetic data help us understand spatiotemporal infection dynamics across animal and human populations, as well as co-infection processes among variants, or different infectious agents. With metagenomic approaches, we assess the host and vector's microbial communities and analyze the influence of host/vector microbiome and diet on infection and vector competence. Additionally, the production and analysis of genomes allow us to study the molecular evolution of infectious agents in insular environment, animal reservoirs, and during the course of epidemic phases in humans. We increasingly incorporate environmental sociology approaches to study the transmission of infectious agents at the interface between wildlife and human populations.

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