Project Title: Time flies: midinfrared spectroscopy and machine learning to estimate the age of tsetse.
Project Summary: Tsetse transmit the trypanosome parasites that cause human and animal African trypanosomiases. Knowing the age structure of tsetse populations provides information on the effectiveness of vector control interventions and transmission dynamics of trypanosomes. The age of female tsetse is estimated by examining their ovaries under a microscope, which is technically difficult and labour intensive. Furthermore, there is no reliable method for aging males, which are also able to transmit trypanosomes. Midinfrared spectroscopy (MIRS) is a method that can detect age-related chemical changes in insect cuticles. My project will evaluate whether MIRS can accurately estimate the age of tsetse to provide a rapid, cost-effective and field-friendly tool to support tsetse control and elimination programmes.