Senior Lecturer
Medicine
Telephone: (01792) 606148
Room: Academic Office - 503
Fifth Floor
Institute of Life Science 1
Singleton Campus

I aim to improve people's health and livelihoods by developing novel, safe insect pest control technologies. I focus on insects that transmit disease (particularly neglected tropical diseases) and agricultural pests. I am a medical & molecular entomologist with overlapping collaborative interests in host-parasite / host-bacterial interactions, bacterial symbionts of insects, RNA interference, parasitology, innate immunology, molecular microbiology and the exploitation of microbes and insects to support medical advances and food security.

I am a lecturer in the Institute of Life Science in the Medical School, and coordinate teaching modules in infectious disease, parasitology and genetic analysis.
I am a 2015 Welsh Cruciblee. My work is applied and inter-disciplinary, and I welcome new collaborations including those with social scientists, climate modellers, lighting engineers and ecologists.

Areas of Expertise

  • entomology
  • molecular biology
  • medical entomology
  • innate immunity
  • biocontrol
  • invertebrate microbiology

Publications

  1. & Symbiont-mediated RNA interference in insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283(1825), 20160042
  2. & Fungal infection dynamics in response to temperature in the lepidopteran insect Galleria mellonella. Insect Science
  3. & Gene silencing in non-model insects: Overcoming hurdles using symbiotic bacteria for trauma-free sustainable delivery of RNA interference. BioEssays 39(3), 1600247
  4. & Re-evaluation of insect melanogenesis research: Views from the dark side. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 30(4), 386-401.
  5. & Can Insects Develop Resistance to Insect Pathogenic Fungi?. PLoS ONE 8(4)
  6. & Immuno-physiological adaptations confer wax moth Galleria mellonella resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis. Virulence 7(8), 860-870.
  7. & Cuticles of European and American lobsters harbor diverse bacterial species and differ in disease susceptibility. MicrobiologyOpen 3(3), 395-409.
  8. Facey PD, Méric G, Hitchings MD, Pachebat JA, Hegarty MJ, Chen X, Morgan L, Hoeppner JE, Whitten M, Kirk W, Dyson PJ, Sheppard SK, Del Sol R Draft Genomes, Phylogenetic Reconstruction, and Comparative Genomics of Two Novel Cohabiting Bacterial Symbionts Isolated fromFrankliniella occidentalis. Genome Biology and Evolution 7(8), 2188-2202.
  9. Whitten, M.M.A., Ratcliffe, N.A. In vitro superoxide activity in the haemolymph of the West Indian leaf cockroach, Blaberus discoidalis. Journal of Insect Physiology 45(7), 667-675.
  10. & Contributions of cellular and humoral immunity of Galleria mellonella larvae in defence against oral infection by Bacillus thuringiensis. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 119, 40-46.

See more...

Teaching

  • PM-004 Fundamentals of Microbiology & Disease

    This module will provide the student with an overview of the fundamentals of microbiology, its causative role in human disease and the intervention of antimicrobials and antibiotics. The role of immunity and its role in human defence against disease will also be introduced in this module, and how this may be modulated in response to pathogens. Lectures will be accompanied by a practical session in microbiological techniques and an essay with academic support. Mae'r modiwl yma yn rhoi trosolwg i fyfyrwyr o hanfodion mewn microbioleg, ei rôl achosol mewn afiechydon dynol ac ymyrraeth gwrthficrobaidd a gwrthfiotig. Caiff rôl imiwnedd a'i rôl mewn amddiffyn dyn yn erbyn afiechydon, a sut mae'n addasu mewn ymateb i bathogenau ei gyflwyno hefyd yn y modiwl yma. Caiff y darlithoedd eu cyfeilio gan sesiynau ymarferol mewn technegau microbiolegol a traethawd efo cefnogaeth academaidd.

  • PM-120 Genetic Analysis I

    This module is designed to develop the skills required for students of genetics and medical genetics. Students will meet with tutors and be given a series of assignments designed to develop skills in key areas such as essay writing, presentations and general numeracy. Joint sessions will cover generic skills such as internet searching for scientific sources, referencing and plagiarism.

  • PM-250 Infectious Disease and Parasitology

    The course will build on the fundamentals of microbiology and introduce new topics in bacteriology, mycology and parasitology. Level 5 Immunology (PM-249) is a pre-requisite. The course covers the fundamentals of infectious diseases, including clinical aspects, treatment / prevention, and experimental approaches to the study of infectious and parasitic organisms. The course will also cover topics including disease outbreaks, beneficial parasites, tropical disease and behaviour-modifying parasites.

  • PM-304 Biomolecular Research Project

    *

  • PM-315 Genetic Analysis III

    The module aims to develop the student¿s ability to critically analyse and synthesise advanced research topics in genetics and molecular biology, and their oral and written scientific presentation skills.

  • PM-344 Capstone Project

    The aim of this module is to provide a capstone experience to students¿ learning, through participating in their own enquiry-based research project. Depending on the student's employability strand within the programme, the project may be laboratory, data, or education-based, but it will always involve a research question that is drawn from the literature, focused on a topic relevant to medical science. It will ask a novel research question and involve the critical analysis of research findings. Students will refine their oral and written communication skills to a graduate level through creating an introductory presentation on the project background, and a written dissertation and oral presentation on their research conclusions.

Supervision

  • 'Post Transcriptional gene silencing of Trypanosoma brucei brucei through endocytosis of dsRNA' (awarded 2018)

    Student name:
    MSc
    Other supervisor: Prof Miranda Walker
    Other supervisor: Prof Paul Dyson

Research Groups

  • Microbes & Immunity

    My research is part of Swansea University School of Medicine's Microbes and Immunity theme. I am also coordinator of the Microbes & Immunity Seminar Series. Please contact me (m.m.a.whitten@swansea.ac.uk) if you have a suggestion for a seminar.

  • Applied Molecular Microbiology Group

    I am a member of the academic and research staff contributing to the Applied Molecular Microbiology Group in Swansea University's Medical School. My speciality is in the manipulation of insect symbionts with a view to reducing the transmission of insect-vectored diseases, and controlling agricultural insect pests.

Research as Art - winning images

New Tools from Insect Poo

 

 

 

 

 

New Tools from Insect Poo (2013)

read the story here: 

http://www.livescience.com/37654-3d-printed-toy-photo-contest.html

The Mosquito Inkblot Test

 

 

 

The Mosquito Inkblot Test (2015)

Read about the Swansea University's Research as Art competition, and more about this image at:

http://www.swansea.ac.uk/research/surf/art-competition/