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Ecology of novel arbo-viruses


Vector-transmitted diseases are responsible for about 1/5 of all infectious diseases. Mosquito-borne diseases in particular can spread rapidly to new geographical regions, adapt to new hosts and trigger epidemics that are difficult to contain. Our knowledge about the diversity, evolution and geographical spread of arboviruses is mainly based on epidemic virus variants that humans and domesticated animals have already developed as hosts


The aim of this project is to fill critical gaps in our knowledge about pre-epidemic virus variants and their spread. Through a comprehensive sample collection of mosquitoes in undisturbed tropical ecosystems, the taxonomic diversity of arboviruses will be assessed and the underlying ecological and genetic mechanisms that promote the spread of epidemic variants from sylvatic amplification cycles will be characterized.

Work programme

The work programme is divided into three sub-projects:

  • Assessment of the complete taxonomic diversity of arboviruses, including new deep phylogenetic lines, based on a sample collection in the three main African vegetation types: lowland rainforest, mountain rainforest and savannah.
  • Identification of the dynamics of infectious diseases in natural and anthropogenically modified communities. Mosquito associated viruses will be used as a multi-host and multi-pathogen system to study interactions between the composition of the host population and the prevalence and diversity of arboviruses.
  • To study the evolution of virus populations along disruption gradients based on genetic and phenotypic changes.

These analyses will for the first time allow an assessment of microevolutionary processes during viral habitat propagation.


PD Dr. Sandra Junglen 
Charité - University Hospital Berlin
E-Mail: sandra.junglen(at)
Tel. +49 (0)30 450 525 4888

  • 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