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Publication Date


First Advisor

Steven A. Williams

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences


Circadian genes, Aedes mosquitoes, Polynesian tiger mosquito


Mosquitoes are the most prevalent and dangerous disease-transmitting insects, responsible for globally infecting hundreds of millions of individuals, and resulting in millions of human deaths each year. Endemic to islands of the South Pacific, the Aedes polynesiensis mosquito is not only responsible for transmitting prevalent arboviruses such as Dengue, Zika and Ross River Virus, but also happens to be an exceptionally competent vector of Wuchereria bancrofti; the parasitic agent responsible for lymphatic filariasis in this region. Understanding Aedes polynesiensis vector competence, depends upon elucidating its unique genetic composition. Circadian clock genes have been speculated to govern a mosquitoes’ rhythmic behavior and biological processes, in a manner coinciding with those of the infectious agent, likely promoting the mosquito’s ability to more readily transmit and transfect various diseases. Although Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus- two Aedes mosquito species surmised to be phylogenetically related to Ae. polynesiensis, already possess comprehensive genome assemblies, the Aedes polynesiensis genome has yet to be explored. The objective of this study was to design, initiate, and experimentally optimize the preliminary laboratory work needed for Aedes polynesiensis whole-genome sequencing to set the foundation for de-novo genome assembly, as well as to investigate the potential of circadian rhythm genes to influence for Aedes polynesiensis vector competence upon sequence data collection. Additionally, this thesis explains the origins of the Aedes polynesiensis genome project, our current achievements, and the trajectory of this ongoing project amidst global scientific endeavors towards the eventual eradication of mosquito-borne infections.


©2020 Renna Bushko Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




150 pages : color illustrations. Includes bibliographical references (pages 88-91)