Acronym: VECPAE Arbovirus vectors in the Pacific: diversity, distribution and identification tools of Aedes sp. for public health.
Principal investigator Nicolas POCQUET
Focal point IPNC Nicolas POCQUET
Collaborators at IPNC Morgane POL, Sosiasi KILAMA, Myrielle DUPONT-ROUZEYROL.
Other collaborators Hervé BOSSIN (ILM), Van-Mai CAO-LORMEAU (ILM), Mike KAMA (MoH Fiji), Esau NAKET (MoH Vanuatu), Matthew SHORTUS (WHO)
Budget  60 000€ Budget devoted to IPNC: 60 000€
Funding Pacific Fund (30 000€), IPNC (30 000€)
Timeline Start date: Oct. 2017 End date: March 2019
Vector-borne diseases are a major public health concern in the Pacific. In addition to dengue, the last five years have seen the emergence of chikungunya and Zika viruses in the South Pacific. These viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus (subgenus Stegomyia), whose a large number of species are present in the Pacific. Identifying these species in the different Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICT) is an essential prerequisite to assess the risk for the population and develop an adapted control strategy. Unfortunately, most of these species belong to the scutellaris group and are morphologically very close. Their identifications require important expertise that is not always available on site.
This project meets this needs by i) strengthening the capacity of Aedes vectors identification in the partner territories (Vanuatu and Fiji), ii) updating the knowledge on the distribution of arbovirus vectors in Vanuatu, Fiji, French Polynesia and New Caledonia, and iii) developing a tool for the rapid identification of vector mosquitoes for all PICT, based on the use of modern identification tools (Molecular Biology and Maldi-Tof Mass Spectrometry).
Task 1: Transfer of skills. Two training missions in entomology will be conducted in Fiji and Vanuatu.

Task 2: Vector distribution. During these missions in Fiji and Vanuatu, an inventory of the Aedes species of the scutellaris group will be carried out. The same type of inventory will be carried out in New Caledonia and French Polynesia respectively by IPNC and ILM. The mosquitoes collected will be identified and kept for the rest of the project.

Task 3: Development of an identification tool. This part of the project aims to develop a fast and reliable tool for identifying Aedes species from the scutellaris group. For that, the sequencing of a gene allowing the species differentiation will be realized for individuals of each species and each locality, captured during the field missions. Thanks to the sequences obtained, an end-point real-time PCR will be developed, in order to have a faster and less expensive identification tool than sequencing.

Finally, a rapid identification tool will be developed through Maldi-Tof mass spectrometry. This tool allows obtaining a specific protein spectrum of a species in a very short time and for a relatively low cost.

Expected Results
At the end of the project, we will have a database combining, for several individuals of each species found, i) morphological description, ii) sequence of gene of interest and iii) protein profile generated in mass spectrometry.
This partnership including for the moment Fiji, Vanuatu, French Polynesia and New Caledonia, can be extended afterwards to other PICT, which will help to anticipate the health risk for the region.