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College/Institute: EPI, and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Department: Entomology and Nematology
Curriculum vitae: PDF
Research interests: Novel insecticides and repellants for mosquito control
Hobby: Fresh and saltwater fishing

Dr. Jeff Bloomquist joined EPI in November of 2009. In the broadest sense, he studies comparative neurotoxicology of synthetic and natural compounds in insects and mammals. Over the past decade, Dr. Bloomquist’s research has centered upon developing chemical control methods to target disease vector mosquitoes.

Mode action studies have focused on identifying new target sites for the screening of novel molecules. For example, known blockers of the Kv2.1 potassium channel (a target not currently exploited for insect control) were compared to other compounds against Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Toxicity screens identified new compounds with promising activity, and electrophysiological studies showed effects on muscle physiology and blockage of Kv2.1 potassium channels that were generally consistent with in vivo toxicity, indicating this site is a viable insecticide target. 

Other studies have evaluated the biological activity of chemically novel trifluoromethylphenyl amides. In past work, the lethal activity of these compounds was usually much less than commercial standards; however, some of them showed mosquito repellency 2-fold better than DEET. Recent chemical synthesis efforts have identified compounds with repellency up to 11-fold better than DEET. This research was supported by a new three year proposal funded in the Fall of 2018 by the Deployed Warfighter Research Program of the Unites States Department of Defense. A new high throughput assay for screening molecules for spatial repellency has been established and it is being used to screen novel pyrethroid derivatives and other chemistries.

If they reach their goal, the chemical could become an insecticide used to impregnate bednet materials –- one of the most effective malaria control methods –- or be used to spray the interior walls of homes. In either application the insecticide would be safe to the touch for humans but would selectively kill mosquitoes by diffusion, attacking their central nervous systems. Likewise, a spatial repellent could be applied to walls or formulated into some kind of an emanator so that it repels insects and prevents them from entering homes.

Contact Information:
Phone: (352) 273-9417
Email: jbquist@epi.ufl.edu