Medical Entomology – Zoonoses & Microbiology

Team 1 of UMR D 257 Vectors – Tropical and Mediterranean Infections (VITROME)
Aix-Marseille University (AMU), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) – French Military Health Service (SSA)

Team leaders

Philippe PAROLA CV

Team members
  • BECHAH Yassina
  • BERENGER Jean-Michel
  • GOTTRAU Anne-Marie
  • ASTIER Helène
  • ELDIN Carole
  • MORAND Jean-Jacques
  • TOGA Isabelle
  • WOLF Audrey

Scientific strategy and prospects

a. Insectarium

A new insectarium has been set up in the Mediterranée Infection IHU building. A total of 4 rooms have been organized, each being specifically dedicated to arthropod groups (fleas, lices, mosquitoes ticks,…).. A room is dedicated for systematic and fine dissections studies, with optical and photography equipment.

b. The use of arthropod to increment the repertoire of microorganisms and survey vector-borne agents

We screen arthropods by molecular biology using specific broad range primers and culture the detected agent if it is a new microorganism. We collect arthropods in the field worldwide (by our selves our through collaborators or international students who are coming with specimens collected in their countries). This approach will complete the repertoire of arthropod borne bacteria known in a specific place,  particularly, in places where other team of VITROME are located, including Algeria, Senegal, French Polynesia, French Guyana. We will be open to new sites of research, particularly when we will host students and international collaborators who will be coming with specimen they have collected in the field.

c. MALDI TOF MS and arthropods

In recent years we have been developing the use of MALDI-TOF MS for the identification of arthropods. The automation and standardization of arthropod sample preparation methods for MALDI-TOF MS analyzes will popularize the use of this innovative tool for the rapid identification of arthropods of medical interest, which is particularly important for vector control studies. Development is associated with field uses in entomological surveys in Europe and the tropics. We are also developing the use of MALDI TOF for the identification of arthropod blood meal. Finally, we test the MALDI TOF capabilities to differentiate arthropods infected or not by bacteria or parasites.

d. Experimental models for a better understanding of interactions between arthropods, humans and microorganisms

Among the current experimental models, we study the transmission of R. felis by several families of arthropods such as mosquitoes, the transmission of leishmanias by dog ticks, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, and the transmission of Bartonella, which are responsible for emerging infectious diseases. fleas and bugs. We will test the vector competence of Cimex lectularius bedbugs to transmit Borrelia recurrentis, the recurrent rag fever agent in Africa. Finally we study my transmission of rickettsia by arthropods.

e. Ecological studies and entomological investigations

We are investigating the parasitism of lice and micro-organisms associated with lice in the homeless population of southern France. We also investigate cases of epidemics or nuisances reported by consulting patients to the IHU. All the tools developed by our team are used, including the detection of bacteria associated with lice, and MALDI TOF to detect their infectious status.

a. Rickettsial diseases

As a national reference center for Rickettsia, Bartonella and Coxiella, we also conduct international investigations to study the clinical, epidemiological and microbiological aspects of rickettsial infections.


b. Studies of causes of fever in sub-Saharan Africa.

After Senegal and Mali, we continue to develop our researches in several other areas in Africa and the Mediterranean. Our partners in these countries are frequently past PhD student who have come back in their countries to develop research activities.


We have created a Mediterranean network called REMEDIER for Mediterranean Research for Emerging and Reemerging Infections. The network’s base will involve institutions in Marseille, France and Algiers. The goal of the coming years is to include scientific partners in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.


This network called GIRAFE for the International Research Group in Africa on Emergence, has a Marseille – Dakar – Bamako axis, and is coordinated with Prof. O. Doumbo in Mali. The aim is to develop in 5 Francophone sub-Saharan African countries a network research based on technology and transfer of colectivities for the detection and surveillance of emerging infectious diseases, in particular those transmitted by vectors.

We study emerging and re-emerging pathogens (such as Mansonella), their epidemiology, mode of transmission, clinical manifestations, diagnoses and treatment. We are conducting studies on bacterial vaginosis in Marseille and the tropics, a widespread disease that impacts prematurity and the transmission of sexual diseases.
Finally, we are investigating animal and zoonotic diseases in the Mediterranean, in Africa but also in other parts of the world. This research theme, which corresponds to the “One Health” concept, is supported by the creation of a veterinary research platform in the IHU

List of Publications

A representative publication presenting medical entomology in IHU

Laroche M, Bérenger JM, Delaunay P, Charrel R, Pradines B, Berger F, Ranque S, Bitam I, Davoust B, Raoult D, Parola P. Medical Entomology: A Reemerging Field of Research to Better Understand Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases. Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Aug 15;65(suppl_1):S30-S38. doi: 10.1093/cid/cix463.

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