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 (manuscript in preparation). 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 (manuscript in preparation).
Currently, I continue studying the ecology of pathogens amplification investigating the dynamics transmission of mosquito-borne pathogens in University of Extremadura (UEx), Spain, under the Juan de la Cierva - Formación funding and the supervision of Professor Alfonso Marzal Reynolds (https://labmarzalunex.wixsite.com/labmarzal/people). In addition, in September 2020, thanks to the prestigious Marie Curie program (MSCA-IF), I will join the University of Amsterdam 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.
For more details see the section "Publication & Congress".
I am currently working at the University of Extremadura (UEx), in Badajoz wit a Juan de la Cierva - Formación grant since April 2018.
Ferraguti M et al. (2019) From Africa to Europe: evidence of transmission of a tropical Plasmodium lineage in Spanish populations of house sparrows. Parasites & vectors 12.1, 548.
Martínez-de la Puente J, Ferraguti M, Jiménez-Peñuela J, Ruiz S, Martínez J, Roiz D, Soriguer R, Figuerola J (2019) Filarial worm circulation by mosquitoes along an urbanization gradient in southern Spain. transboundary emerging diseases. 66.4, 1752-1757.
Díez‐Fernández A, Martínez‐de la Puente J, Gangoso L, Ferraguti M, Soriguer R, Figuerola J (2019). House sparrow uropygial gland secretions do not attract ornithophilic nor mammophilic mosquitoes. Medical and veterinary entomology. DOI: 10.1111/mve.12401