My research activity focuses on the analyses of the impact of ecological processes and anthropic alterations of the environment on the transmission of mosquito-borne pathogens such as West Nile virus, avian malaria parasites and filarial worms. This is currently an area of growing interest given the increase in the incidence of emerging and re-emerging diseases in the modern scenario. During my Ph.D. I have described the environmental factors affecting the composition and distribution of the mosquito community (Ferraguti et al. 2016 Sci Rep) and the role of biotic and abiotic factors that determine the infection of wild vertebrates (Ferraguti et al. 2018. J Anim Ecol; Martínez-de la Puente, Ferraguti et al. 2018 Sci Rep), finally identifying how biodiversity globally determines the exposure and success of transmission of these pathogens in the wild (Ferraguti et al. 2021 Plos Path). Overall, these results allowed me, and the scientific community, to identify the complex transmission networks of vector-borne pathogens, including those that potentially spread emerging zoonotic diseases and could have an impact on human and animal health.
I have recently expanded my knowledge on epidemiology by collaborating with Prof. Hans Heesterbeek from Utrecht University, a world expert in Epidemiology. In my stay in the Netherlands, I learned the theoretical background to develop mathematical models of biological processes (e.g. the basic reproduction number R0) of the transmission of two mosquito-borne pathogens: West Nile virus and the avian malaria Plasmodium (Ferraguti et al. 2021 Trans Inf Dis). Nowadays, I have just completed my Juan de la Cierva - Formación grant at the University of Extremadura (UEx), Spain, under the supervision of Professor Alfonso Marzal Reynolds.
Since January 2021, thanks to the prestigious Marie Curie program (MSCA-IF), I have joined the University of Amsterdam (UvA) where I will work with Dr. Yael Artzy-Randrup, a theoretical ecologist with a unique background in mathematical modeling of infectious diseases, developing epidemiological models for the study of infectious diseases.
Overall, my main goal is to become an independent scientist specialized in mosquito-borne infectious diseases.
My name is Martina and I was born in Rome on 4 June 1987. I was graduated with the maximum qualification (cum laude) in Biological Sciences at the University of Roma Tre, in Rome (Italy) with specialization in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management in 2011. My master thesis focused on the study of Animal Ecology, specifically on the study of the structure, composition and relationship with some environmental parameters of a breeding bird community of the beech wood of Allumiere (Rome, central Italy).
After that, in July 2012, I finished an Official Master of II level in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the Pablo de Olavide University in Seville (Spain), with the maximum qualification of Sobresaliente. During the last year of my degree, with a grant from the European LLP/Erasmus Student Placement Program, I started my research activity in the field of Ecology of Parasitism at the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC). There, I did my doctoral thesis directed by Dr. Jordi Figuerola and Dr. Josué Martínez de la Puente, funded by the Spanish Formación de Profesorado Universitario (FPU) grant. I defended my PhD thesis titled "Biodiversity and Vector-Borne diseases: effects of landscape, mosquito and vertebrate communities on the transmission of West Nile virus and avian malaria parasite" on June 26th, 2017 obtaining the title of International Doctor with the highest qualification of Sobresaliente cum laude.
During my pre-doctoral period, I have been awarded four scholarships/contracts obtained in competitive calls, including my main source of funding for the doctorate. My research interests focused on the study of the transmission dynamics of avian malaria pathogens. I improved my experience on the use of analytical techniques, including molecular analysis techniques, to identify both blood parasites and insect vectors such as Mosquitoes and Culicoides.
Marzal A*, Ferraguti M*, Murielc J, Magallanes S, Ortize JA, García-Longoria L, Bravo-Barriga D, Guerrero-Carvajal F, Aguilera-Sepúlveda P, Llorenteg F, de Lopea F, Jiménez–Claverog MÁ, Frontera E (2022). *Both authors contributed equally to this work. Circulation of zoonotic flaviviruses in wild passerine birds in Western Spain. Veterinary Microbiology, 268: 109399. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2022.109399
Ferraguti M, Martínez-de la Puente J, Jiménez–Clavero MÁ, Llorente F, Roiz D, Ruiz S, Soriguer R, Figuerola J (2021). A field test of the dilution effect hypothesis in four avian multi-host pathogens. PLOS Pathogens (2021), 17(6): e1009637. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1009637
Ferraguti M, Martínez-de la Puente J, Figuerola J (2021). Ecological effects on the dynamics of West Nile virus and avian Plasmodium: the importance of mosquito communities and landscape. Viruses (2021), 13: 1208. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/v13071208
Ferraguti M, Heesterbeek H, Martínez‐de la Puente J, Jiménez‐Clavero MÁ, Vázquez A, Ruiz S, Llorente F, Roiz D, Vernooij H, Soriguer R & Figuerola J (2021). The role of different Culex mosquito species in the transmission of West Nile virus and avian malaria parasites in Mediterranean areas. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 68: 920–930. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/tbed.13760
For more details see the section "Publications" section.