G2B Announcement

From Geometry to Biology (9th-11th of June 2016, Quito, Ecuador)

Tracking Harmful Arthropods across Continents


We wish to invite you to a South-South-North meeting on geometric morphometrics as applied to medical, agronomic and veterinary entomology.

The event From Geometry to Biology will be held at Quito (Ecuador), in June 2016 (9-11), and will bring together researchers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. Such initiative would mix very diverse experiences on similar topics addressed by a common approach, i.e., geometric morphometrics.

It is organized jointly by the IRD (UMR 177 IRD-CIRAD INTERTRYP, Baillarguet, France) and the CIEI (PUCE university, Quito, Ecuador), under the auspices of SENESCYT and the support of various French Embassies.

The meeting is about dangerous or detrimental arthropods, mainly insects. Because they transmit parasites, bacteria or viruses, they are responsible for widespread human and animal diseases like Chagas disease in the New World, sleeping sickness in Africa, or arthropod-borne viruses in most parts of the world, etc. Because they feed on fruits or plants, they are responsible for important economic losses.

The Chagas disease is transmitted mainly by the american “kissing bugs”. According to recent estimations based on health-care costs and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), the global economic cost of Chagas disease exceeds USD $7 billion annually, a cost which surpasses that of rotavirus ($2 billion) and cervical cancer ($4.7 billion. (Lee et al., 2013, Lancet Infect Dis. 13(4))
In Africa, “tse tse” flies have devastating economic impacts. They cause infection to humans as well as to livestock so that raising animals in infected areas has become nearly impossible.
Among arthropod-borne viral diseases, dengue and chikungunya are other examples of economic burden. In 2012, dengue was likely more important than malaria globally in terms of morbidity and economic impact (Gübler, 2012, Am J Trop Med Hyg 86(5): 743-744)

An important impact on food and security is also the consequence of insects that feed on plants, like for instance pest fruit flies. Among them, Tephritid flies are of particular concern throughout much of Asia and Australia, where they constitute a significant threat to agricultural resources (Kitthawee & Dujardin, 2010, Zoology 113 243–249). Moreover, they recently spread into the African continent, revealing their high invasiveness capacity.

The heavy economic impact and human suffering due to the activity of these and other insects are strong arguments for more attention and efforts towards their control. Whatever the techniques and strategies to fight and track them, the need for a cheap, fast and accurate insect identification tool remains crucial.

In this regard, the geometric approach to morphometrics has proved to be an attractive option. Over the last fifteen years,  in collaboration with IRD, it produced numerous international publications. Moreover, two electronic banks were created containing digitized images  for morphometric studies: (i) the IRD CLIC bank, and (ii) the WINGBANK from the Butantan Institute, at the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil).

The meeting will review the present state of the art, with the following objectives: to identify weaknesses and difficulties, to suggest collaborative solutions, to explore the ways to increase productivity, and to reinforce the capacity of the digital data banks (CLIC bank [IRD, France] and WINGBANK [University of Sao Pailo]).

The direct exchange among widely dispersed specialists of this young discipline will be a stimulating challenge. It certainly will represent a unique opportunity to enrich the subject, to open creative research avenues, and to stimulate new international “ South-South-North ” collaborations.

Detailed program is here.