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Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory

Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory

Dr. Barry Alto

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Barry Alto

Associate Professor

Mosquito Ecology - Disdease Transmission
bwalto@ufl.edu

Biology has always been an interest for me from childhood. I developed interest in ecology during my undergraduate studies at University of St. Thomas as a result of coursework and research projects. My Masters research was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Steven Juliano at Illinois State University on population dynamics of the invasive Asian tiger mosquito. In particular, my research focused on the effects of predicted climate change and distribution of the Asian tiger mosquito. From Illinois I headed towards warmer weather at University of Florida (Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory) to work with Dr. Philip Lounibos on my Ph.D. research, interspecific competition between the Asian tiger and Yellow fever mosquitoes and consequences for susceptibility to arthropod-borne (arbo) viruses. During this time I became very interested in environmental modifiers of virus infection processes. As a result I began discussions with Dr. Paul Turner at Yale University about mutual interests in the ecology and evolution of viruses. Upon completion of my Ph.D. research I moved to Connecticut after being awarded the Gaylord Donnelley Environmental Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (http://www.yale.edu/yibs/). I worked with Paul Turner in the Yale Department of Ecology and Evolutionary biology where my research focused on experimental evolution of viruses. There I investigated the impact of temperature variation on the evolution of vesicular stomatitis virus populations as well as the adaptive consequences for evolved host breadth in novel environments.

From Connecticut I accepted a position as Medical Entomologist and Director of the Medical Entomology program, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois. There I established a research program testing hypotheses related to biotic and abiotic factors which mediate changes in mosquito life history traits, interspecific interactions among mosquitoes, and interactions between mosquitoes and arboviruses. From Illinois I returned to University of Florida (FMEL) as an Assistant Professor in 2010 because of research opportunities and to be closer to family. I head research in biosafety level 2 and 3 laboratories suitable for studying virus interactions with arthropod vectors in vivo (e.g., mosquitoes) and hosts in vitro (e.g., mammalian cells). My research focus is on ecological interactions that alter life history triats, population growth, community structure and susceptibility of mosquitoes to infection with arboviruses.

Ontogenetic niche shifts, which often entail a dramatic change in habitat or diet, occur among many taxa which undergo complete metamorphosis, such as frogs and some insects, including mosquitoes. Abiotic factors and interactions with other species at earlier stages (e.g., aquatic larval stage) can influence later stages (e.g., terrestrial adult stage) and shape plastic responses for individual traits such rate of growth and development. In many instances, these carry-over effects between stages may be classified as indirect effects where interactions between two species (e.g., competition), or abiotic factors such as temperature, may alter interactions with a third species. The epidemiological consequences of ecological interactions that transcend life history stages of insect vectors of pathogens, such as mosquitoes, have not been well studied. Species interactions (e.g., competition, predation) and abiotic factors (temperature, insecticide) affecting the larval stage may play an important role in determining individual traits, including those traits related to vectoring ability of adult mosquitoes for arboviruses. My research emphasis fills these intellectual gaps to further our understanding of mosquito ecology and disease transmission. Another area of research examines how thermal adaptation affects temperature performance, molecular evolution, and niche breadth of an RNA virus (vesicular stomatitis virus).

Current Research

152x180

Barry Alto

Associate Professor

Mosquito Ecology - Disdease Transmission
bwalto@ufl.edu

  • Ph.D. Entomology & Nematology, University of Florida 2006
  • M.S. Biology, Illinois State University 2000
  • B.A. Cum laude, Biology, University of St. Thomas 1997

152x180

Barry Alto

Associate Professor

Mosquito Ecology - Disdease Transmission
bwalto@ufl.edu

Representative Publications (since 2008)

  • Bellamy, S.K.g, Alto, B.W. 2018. Mosquito responses to trait and density mediated interactions of predation. Oecologia 187: 233-243.
  • Alto, B.W., Wiggins, K.u, Eastmond, B., Ortiz, S.u, Zirbel, K.g, Lounibos, L.P. 2018. Diurnal temperature range and chikungunya virus infection in invasive mosquito vectors. J. Med. Entomol. 55:217-224.
  • Zhao, L., Alto, B.W., Smartt, C.T., Shin, D. 2018. Transcription profiling for defensins of Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) during development and in response to infection with chikungunya and Zika viruses.  J. Med. Entomol. 55: 78-89.
  • Burkhalter, K.L. Wiggins, K.u, Burkett-Cadena, N., Alto, B.W. 2018. Laboratory evaluation of commercially available platforms to detect West Nile and Zika viruses from honey cards. J. Med. Entomol. 55: 717-722.
  • Yaren, O., Alto, B.W., Bradley, K., Moussatche, P., Glushakova, L., Benner S. 2018. Multiplexed isothermal amplification based diagnostics platform to detect Zika, chikungunya and dengue-1. J. Vis. Exp. Mar 13; (133) doi: 10.3791/57051.
  • Zirbel, K.g, Alto, B.W., Eastmond, B.u 2018. Parental larval diet influences life history traits and dengue virus infection of offspring in Aedes aegypti. R. Soc. Open Sci. 5: 180859. HTTP://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.180539.
  • Honório, N.A.p, Wiggins, K.u, Câmara, D.C.P.g, Eastmond, Alto, B.W. 2018. Chikunguny virus competency of Brazilian and Florida mosquito vectors. PloS Negl. Trop. Dis. 12(6):e0006521. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006521.
  • Cook, C.L., Huang, Y-J.S., Lyons, A., Alto, B.W., Unlu, I., Higgs, S., Vanlandingham, D.L. 2018. North American Culex pipiens and Culex quinquefasciatus are competent vectors for Usutu virus. PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 12(8): e0006732.
  • Zhao, L., Alto, B.W., Shin, D., Yu, F. 2018. The effect of permethrin resistance on Aedes aegypti transcriptome following ingestion of Zika virus infected blood. Viruses (in press).
  • Zirbel, K.g, Alto, B.W. 2018. Maternal and paternal nutrition in a mosquito influences offspring life histories but not infection with an arbovirus. Ecosphere (in press).
  • Wiggins, K.u, Eastmond, B., Alto, B.W. 2018. Transmission potential of Mayaro virus in Florida Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Med. Vet. Entomol. doi:10.1111/mve.12322 (in press).
  • Glushakova, L.G., Alto, B.W., Bradley, A., S.A. Benner. 2018. Detection of mosquito-borne arboviruses by twenty-two multiplexed xMAP Luminex assays panel. J. Microbiol. Biotech. (in press).
  • Glushakova, L.G., Alto, B.W., Kim, S.M., Hutter, D., Bradley, A., Bradley, K.M., Benner, S.A. 2018. Comprehensive xMAP Luminex array panel based on PCR amplification and SAMRS-AEGIS technology discriminates chikungunya, Zika and four serotypes of dengue in mosquitoes. J. Virol. Methods (in revision).
  • Glushakova, L.G., Alto, B.W., Kim, M.S., Burkett-Cadena N.D., Wiggins, K., Eastmond, B., Benner, S.A. 2018. Optimization of cationic (Q)-paper for detection of arboviruses in infected mosquitoes. J. Virol. Methods (in revision).
  • Smartt, C.T., Shin, D., Alto, B.W. 2017. Dengue serotype-specific immune response in Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. 112: 829-837.
  • Alto, B.W., Wiggins, K.u, Eastmond, B.u, Velez, D.u, Lounibos, L.P., Lord, C.C. 2017. Transmission risk of two chikungunya lineages by invasive mosquito vectors from Florida and the Dominican Republic. PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 11(7): e0005724.
  • Zhao, L., Alto, B.W., Duguma, D. 2017. Transcriptional profile for detoxification enzymes AeaGGT1 and AaeGGT2 from Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) in response to larvicides. J. Med. Entomol. 54: 878-887.
  • Glushakova, L.G., Alto, B.W., Kim, M.S., Bradley, A., Yaren, O., Benner, S.A. 2017. Detection of chikungunya viral RNA in mosquito bodies on cationic (Q) paper based on innovations in synthetic biology. J. Virol. Methods 246: 104-111.
  • Yaren, O., Alto, B.W., Bradley, K.M., Yang, Z., & Benner, S.A. 2017. Point of sampling detection of Zika virus within a multiplexed kit capable of detecting dengue and chikungunya. BMC Infect. Dis. 17: 293 doi:10.1186/s12879-017-2382-0.
  • Huang, Y-J., Ayers V.B., Lyons, A.C., Unlu I., Alto B.W., Cohnstaedt L.W., Higgs S., & Vanlandingham, D.L. 2016. Culex species mosquitoes and Zika virus. Vector-Borne Zoonotic Dis. 16: 673-676.
  • Kartzinel, M.A., Alto, B.W., Deblasio M.W., & Burkett-Cadena, N.D. 2016. Development and field evaluation of an autodissemination station for the suppression of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus in Florida. J. Am. Mosq. Control Assoc. 32: 194-202.
  • Connelly, R.C., Alto, B.W., & O’Meara, G.F. 2016. The spread of Culex coronator (Diptera: Culicidae) throughout Florida. J. Vector Ecol. 41:195-199.
  • Alto, B.W., & Lord, CC. 2016. Transstadial effects of Bti on traits of Aedes aegypti and infection with dengue virus. PLOS Negl. Trop. Dis. 10(2): e0004370. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004370.
  • Buckner, E.A., Alto B.W., & Lounibos, L.P. 2016. Larval temperature-food effects on adult mosquito infection and vertical transmission of dengue-1 virus. J. Med. Entomol. 53:91-98.
  • Alto, B.W., Bettinardi, D.J., & Ortiz, S. 2015. Interspecific larval competition differentially impacts adult survival in dengue vectors. J. Med. Entomol. 52:163-170. http://jme.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/02/09/jme.tju062
  • Glushakova, L.G., Bradley, A., Bradley, K., Alto, B.W., Sharma, N., Hoshika, S., Hutter, D., Yang, Z., Benner, & S.A. 2015. High-throughput multiplexed xMAP Luminex array panel for detection of twenty two medically important mosquito-borne arboviruses based on innovations in synthetic biology. J. Virol. Methods 214:60-74. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016609341500018X
  • Alto, B.W., Smartt, C.T., Shin, D., Bettinardi, D., Malicoate, J., Anderson, S.L., & Richards, S.L. 2014. Susceptibility of Florida Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus to dengue viruses from Puerto Rico. J. Vector Ecol. 39: 406-413.
  • Alto, B.W., Connelly, R.C., O'Meara, G.F., Hickman, D., & Karr, N. 2014. Reproductive biology and susceptibility of Florida Culex coronator to infection with West Nile virus. Vector-Borne Zoonotic Dis. 14: 606-614.
  • Alto, B.W., Richards, S.L., Anderson, S.L., & Lord, C.C. 2014. Survival in West Nile virus challenged Southern house mosquito Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus in relation to environmental temperature. J. Vector Ecol. 39: 123-133.
  • Lord, C.C., Alto, B.W., Anderson, S.A., Connelly, C.R., Day, J.F., Richards, S.L., Smartt, C.T. & Tabachnick W.J. 2014. Can Horton hear the whos? Scale in vector-borne disease. J. Med. Entomol. 51: 297-313.
  • Costanzo K.S., Muturi, E.J., Montgomery, A.V. & Alto, B.W. 2014. Effect of LaCrosse encephalitis virus infection on life history traits of native Ochlerotatus triseriatus and invasive Stegomyia albopicta. Med. Vet. Entomol. 28: 77-84.
  • Alto, B.W., Wasik, B.R., Morales, N.M., & P.E. Turner. 2013. Stochastic temperatures impede RNA virus adaptation. Evolution 67: 969-979.
  • Ogbunugafor, C.B., Alto, B.W., Overton, T.M., Bhushan, A., Morales, N.M. & P.E. Turner. 2013. Evolution of increased survival in RNA viruses specialized on cancer-derived cells. Am. Nat. 181: 585-595.
  • Alto, B.W., & Bettinardi, D. 2013. Temperature and dengue virus infection in mosquitoes: Independent effects on the immature and adult stages. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 88:497-505.
  • Alto, B.W., Lampman, R.L, Kesavaraju, B., & Muturi, E.J. 2013. Pesticide-induced release from competition among competing Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae). J. Med. Entomol. 50:1240-1249.
  • Buckner, E.A., Lounibos, L.P., & B.W. Alto. 2013. Infection, dissemination, and vertical transmission of Key West dengue-1 virus by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) mosquitoes from Florida. J. Med. Entomol. 50:1291-1297.
  • Shin, D., Richards, S.L., Alto, B.W., Bettinardi, D.J., & Smartt, C.T. 2013. Genome sequence analysis of dengue virus 1 isolated in Key West, Florida. PLoS One 8(9): e74582. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074582.
  • Lampman, R.L., Krasavin, N.M., Ward, M.P., Beveroth, T.A., Lankau, E.W., Alto, B.W., Muturi, E., & Novak, R.J. 2013. West Nile virus infection rates and avian serology in East central Illinois. J. Am. Mosq. Control Assoc. 29:108-122.
  • Alto B.W, & Lounibos L.P. 2013. Vector competence for arboviruses in relation to the larval environment of mosquitoes. In: Takken W, Koenraadt CJM (eds) Ecology of parasite-vector interactions. Ecology and control of vector-borne diseases, Volume 3. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Netherlands, pp. 81-101.
  • Alto, B.W., Malicoate, J., Elliott, S.M., & J. Taylor. 2012. Demographic consequences of predators on prey: Trait and density mediated effects on mosquito larvae in containers. PLoS One 7(11): e45785. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045785.
  • Richards, S.L., Anderson, S.L, & B.W. Alto. 2012. Vector competence of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) for dengue virus in the Florida Keys. J. Med. Entomol. 49: 942-946.
  • Alto, B.W., Muturi, E.J. & Lampman, R.L. 2012. Effects of nutrition and density-dependence in Culex pipiens. Med. Vet. Entomol. 26:396-406.
  • Westcott, N.E., Hilberg, S.D., Lampman, R.L, Alto, B.W., Bedel, A., Muturi, E.J., Glahn, H., Baker, M., Kunkel, K.E. & Novak, R.J. 2011. Predicting the seasonal shift in mosquito populations preceding the onset of the West Nile virus in Central Illinois. B. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 92:1173-1180.
  • Costanzo, K.S., Muturi, E.J. & B.W. Alto. 2011. Trait-mediated effects of predation across life-history stages in container mosquitoes. Ecol. Entomol. 36: 605-615.
  • Muturi, E.J., Kim, C-H., Alto, B.W., Berenbaum, M. & M. Schuler. 2011. Larval environmental stress alters Aedes aegypti competence for Sindbis virus. Trop. Med. Int. Health 16: 955-964.
  • Muturi, E.J., Costanzo, K.S., Kesavaraju, B. & B.W. Alto. 2011. Can pesticides and larval competition alter susceptibility of Aedes mosquitoes to arbovirus infection? J. Med. Entomol. 48: 429-436.
  • Alto, B.W. 2011. Interspecific larval competition between invasive Aedes japonicus and native A. triseriatus (Diptera: Culicidae) and adult longevity. J. Med. Entomol. 48:232-242.
  • Muturi, E.J., Costanzo, K.S., Kesavaraju, B., Lampman, R. & B.W. Alto. 2011. Effect of temperature and insecticide stress on life-history traits of Culex restuans and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae). J. Med. Entomol. 48: 243-250.
  • Muturi, E.J. & Alto, B.W. 2011. Larval environmental temperature and insecticide exposure alters Aedes aegypti competence for arboviruses. Vector-borne Zoonotic Dis. 11: 1157-1163.
  • Costanzo, K.S., Muturi, E.J., Lampman, R. & Alto, B.W. 2011. The effects of resource type and ratio on competition with Aedes albopictus and Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae). J. Med. Entomol. 48: 29-38.
  • Alto, B.W. & Turner, P.E. 2010. Consequences of host adaptation for performance of vesicular stomatitis virus in novel thermal environments. Evol. Ecol. 24: 299-315.
  • Kesavaraju, B., Alto, B.W., Afify, A. & Gaugler, R. 2010. Malathion influences competition between Aedes albopictus and Aedes japonicus. J. Med. Entomol. 47:1011-1018.
  • Muturi, E.J., Costanzo, K.S., Kesavaraju, B., Lampman, R. & Alto, B.W. 2010. Interactions of a pesticide and larval competition on life history traits of Culex pipiens. Acta Tropica 116:141-146.
  • Turner, P.E., Morales, N., Alto, B.W. & Remold, S.K. 2010. Role of evolved host breadth in the initial emergence of an RNA virus. Evolution 64: 3273-3286.
  • Alto, B.W., Kesavaraju, B., Juliano, S.A. & Lounibos, L.P. 2009. Stage-dependent predation on competitors: consequences for the outcome of a mosquito invasion. J. Anim. Ecol. 78: 928-936.
  • Alto, B.W., Reiskind, M.H. & Lounibos, L.P. 2008. Size alters susceptibility of vectors to dengue virus infection and dissemination. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 79: 688-695.
  • Alto, B.W., Lounibos, L.P., Mores, C.N. & Reiskind, M.H. 2008. Larval competition alters susceptibility of adult Aedes mosquitoes to dengue infection. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 275: 463-471.
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Barry Alto

Associate Professor

Mosquito Ecology - Disdease Transmission
bwalto@ufl.edu

Appointments, Awards, and Professional Service:

  • 2016-present, Editorial Board, Entomological Society of America (Environmental Entomology).
  • 2015-present, Board of Directors (Member-at-Large), Florida Mosquito Control Association.
  • 2014, Richard Jones Outstanding New Faculty Research Award, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
  • 2011-2014, Editorial Board (served as chair in 2014), Entomological Society of America (Journal of Medical Entomology).
  • 2011-2014, Faculty Assembly representative, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
  • 2014-present, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Faculty Research Advisory Group, University of Florida.