Aude Benlali
Research / Technician
UMR PIMIT, CNRS 9192, INSERM 1187, IRD 249.
Ste Clotilde, Reunion France

Areas of Expertise:
entomology, molecular biology.

Research Organisms:
Ae. albopictus, C. p. quinquefasciatus, Wolbachia


Research Focus:

I have been previously working with D. melanogaster as a model to study eye’s development in Jessica Treisman’s lab, NYU, where I generated EMS mutants, characterized complementation groups and eventually mapped mutations by plasmid transformation (1–3). I then became a teacher for several years before going back to science working on zoonoses, especially on the dynamics of zoonotic pathogens shed by bats (4, 5).
I have more recently joined a company, SymbioTIC, that is developing mosquito lines for the control of Aedes albopictus through Wolbachia-mediated Cytoplasmic Incompatibility. My supervisors are Pablo Tortosa and Patrick Mavingui. We have constructed a genetic sexing strain for Ae. albopictus using the rdl gene confering dieldrin resistance (6). We have constructed an asymbiotic line using antibiotics through several generations and we are using the eggs of this line as receiver for wPip Wolbachia, micro injected with extracts from Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus eggs. We have been struggling with micro injections but we steadily increased survival rates although we did not thus far establish a stable wPip infected Ae. albopictus line. My supervisors as well as Tanja Rehling and Irena Häcker, who I visited for a short period, suggested that I would accelerate my injections techniques by attending your training session. In addition to Wolbachia injection, I am interested in genome editing through CrispR-Cas9 and more generally to insect technologies for which you may provide a relevant overview. I am hence highly interested by your training and I thank you in advance for considering my application.

1. Benlali A, Draskovic I, Hazelett DJ, Treisman JE. 2000. act up Controls Actin Polymerization to Alter Cell Shape and Restrict Hedgehog Signaling in the Drosophila Eye Disc. Cell 101:271–281.
2. Janody F, Lee JD, Jahren N, Hazelett DJ, Benlali A, Miura GI, Draskovic I, Treisman JE. 2004. A mosaic genetic screen reveals distinct roles for trithorax and polycomb group genes in Drosophila eye development. Genetics 166:187–200.
3. Janody F, Martirosyan Z, Benlali A, Treisman JE. 2003. Two subunits of the Drosophila mediator complex act together to control cell affinity. Development 130:3691–3701.
4. Dietrich M, Wilkinson DA, Benlali A, Lagadec E, Ramasindrazana B, Dellagi K, Tortosa P. 2015. Leptospira and paramyxovirus infection dynamics in a bat maternity enlightens pathogen maintenance in wildlife. Environ Microbiol 17:4280–4289.
5. Dietrich M, Gomard Y, Lagadec E, Ramasindrazana B, Le Minter G, Guernier V, Benlali A, Rocamora G, Markotter W, Goodman SM, Dellagi K, Tortosa P. 2018. Biogeography of Leptospira in wild animal communities inhabiting the insular ecosystem of the western Indian Ocean islands and neighboring Africa. Emerg Microbes Infect 7:57.
6. Lebon C, Benlali A, Atyame C, Mavingui P, Tortosa P. 2018. Construction of a genetic sexing strain for Aedes albopictus: a promising tool for the development of sterilizing insect control strategies targeting the tiger mosquito. Parasites & Vectors 11:658.