Professor Luke Alphey

Research Interests

My major research focus is on the use of modern genetic methods to improve the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). I proposed a major modification to SIT called RIDL® (Thomas et al., 2000 Science). We are developing both the theory and the molecular biology and genetics of this approach, first in Drosophila and latterly in pest insects. We work primarily on the mosquito Aedes aegypti and diamondback moth. Aedes aegypti is the major vector of important viral pathogens including dengue, yellow fever and Zika viruses. A critical concern is the fitness cost to the insect imposed by the RIDL system.

Another area of interest in genetic control is the "refractory insect" strategy, which is based on (i) the production in the laboratory of a strain of insects refractory to transmission of a disease agent (e.g. malaria or dengue fever) and (ii) the introgression of this refractory gene into the wild population, so that the disease-transmitting insect population is rendered harmless. I have devised new approaches to the introgression problem; we are currently modelling these to explore their advantages and disadvantages, and are also trying to construct the required genetic systems.

Additional Information:

Selected as Technology Pioneer 2008 by the World Economic Forum. Runner-up BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2009. Social Innovator winner and Overall Winner, BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2014. Winner, Entomological Society of America award for Creativity and Innovation in Entomology (Nan-Yao Su Award) 2014. Finalist European Inventor Award 2015 of European Patent Office.