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Staff Profile: Martin James Donnelly

Martin Donnelly

Martin James Donnelly MA, MSc, PhD, FRES


Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Honorary Faculty Member, Malaria Programme, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Areas of interest: Evolutionary genetics and genomics of insect vectors, the evolution and epidemiological impact of insecticide resistance.


I trained at Girton College, Cambridge University (MA) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (MSc, PhD). I was then awarded an American Society of Microbiology Fellowship and spent two years in the laboratory of Dr Tovi Lehmann at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA (1999-2001). I re-joined the Department of Vector Biology in 2001.


A major area of interest is the evolution of insecticide resistance in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. We use a variety of approaches to identify and validate insecticide resistance associated loci. Additional details may be found on the lab website

A key partnership is with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Malaria Programme, where I hold an Honorary Faculty position. Through this collaboration we leverage the power of next-generation sequencing technologies to address aspects of the biology of Anopheles gambiae that impact upon the sustainable control of malaria. This includes genome wide association studies (GWAS) to identify genetic loci associated with insecticide resistance and population genetic studies to describe population sub-structuring.

Much of this work is conducted in collaboration with Dr David Weetman.

The Group

Dr Craig Wilding and Mr Henry Mawejje (IDRC, Makerere University). Work on the evolution of insecticide resistance and parasite susceptibility in Uganda. This is part of an NIAID-funded International Center of Excellence in Malaria Research led by Dr Grant Dorsey, UCSF and Prof Moses Kamya, MU.

Dr Krishanthi Subramaniam provides technical and academic support to a WHO-BMGF funded project on the epidemiological impacts of insecticide resistance in India and four countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Sudan, Kenya, Benin and Cameroon).

Dr Luc Djogbenou is a Wellcome Trust Training Fellow in Tropical Medicine and Public Health and Honorary Fellow of the LSTM. He works, amongst other things, on the impacts of copy number variation on insecticide resistance.

Dr Tiago Antao is a Sir Henry Wellcome Post-Doctoral Fellow who will join the group in November 2013.

Mr. Chris Clarkson is a PhD student working on the evolutionary genomics of Anopheles gambiae (co-supervised Dr David Weetman)

Mr. Fabricio Martin's PhD addresses adaptation in the lymphatic filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus (co-supervised Dr Craig Wilding)

Mr. Paul Howell is a part-time PhD student based at the CDC, Atlanta investigating insecticide resistance in Anopheles arabiensis

Mr. Kevin Opondo is an MRC-The Gambia PhD student working on spatial heterogeneities in malaria transmission (co-supervised Dr David Weetman and Prof Umberto d’Alessandro, ITM, Antwerpen /MRC The Gambia)

Ms. Emily Rippon and Mr Keith Steen provide technical support to the group

Lab affiliates

Bilali Kabula is an MCDC PhD student based at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College, Moshi working on malaria vector diversity in Tanzania.

Victor Asoala is also an MCDC PhD student but based at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi  where he investigates malaria transmission dynamics and insecticide resistance in the Kassena Nankana Districts of Ghana.


Recent Publications

Number of items: 80.

Weetman, David, Mitchell, Sara N., Wilding, Craig S., Birks, Daniel P., Yawson, Alexander E., Essandoh, John, Mawejje, Henry D., Djogbenou, Luc S., Steen, Keith, Rippon, Emily, Clarkson, Christopher S., Field, Stuart G., Rigden, Daniel J. and Donnelly, Martin (2015) 'Contemporary evolution of resistance at the major insecticide target site geneAce-1by mutation and copy number variation in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae'. Molecular Ecology, Vol 24, Issue 11, pp. 21656-2672.

Weetman, David and Donnelly, Martin (2015) 'Evolution of insecticide resistance diagnostics in malaria vectors'. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Vol 109, Issue 5, pp. 291-293.

Neafsey, D. E., Waterhouse, R. M., Abai, M. R., Aganezov, S. S., Alekseyev, M. A., Allen, J. E., Amon, J., Arca, B., Arensburger, P., Artemov, G., Assour, L. A., Basseri, H., Berlin, A., Birren, B. W., Blandin, S. A., Brockman, A. I., Burkot, T. R., Burt, A., Chan, C. S., Chauve, C., Chiu, J. C., Christensen, M., Costantini, C., Davidson, V. L. M., Deligianni, E., Dottorini, T., Dritsou, V., Gabriel, S. B., Guelbeogo, W. M., Hall, A. B., Han, M. V., Hlaing, T., Hughes, D. S. T., Jenkins, A. M., Jiang, X., Jungreis, I., Kakani, E. G., Kamali, M., Kemppainen, P., Kennedy, R. C., Kirmitzoglou, I. K., Koekemoer, L. L., Laban, N., Langridge, N., Lawniczak, M. K. N., Lirakis, M., Lobo, N. F., Lowy, E., MacCallum, R. M., Mao, C., Maslen, G., Mbogo, C., McCarthy, J., Michel, K., Mitchell, S. N., Moore, W., Murphy, K. A., Naumenko, A. N., Nolan, T., Novoa, E. M., O'Loughlin, S., Oringanje, C., Oshaghi, M. A., Pakpour, N., Papathanos, P. A., Peery, A. N., Povelones, M., Prakash, A., Price, D. P., Rajaraman, A., Reimer, Lisa, Rinker, D. C., Rokas, A., Russell, T. L., Sagnon, N., Sharakhova, M. V., Shea, T., Simao, F. A., Simard, F., Slotman, M. A., Somboon, P., Stegniy, V., Struchiner, C. J., Thomas, G. W. C., Tojo, M., Topalis, P., Tubio, J. M. C., Unger, M. F., Vontas, J., Walton, C., Wilding, C. S., Willis, J. H., Wu, Y.-C., Yan, G., Zdobnov, E. M., Zhou, X., Catteruccia, F., Christophides, G. K., Collins, F. H., Cornman, R. S., Crisanti, A., Donnelly, Martin, Emrich, S. J., Fontaine, M. C., Gelbart, W., Hahn, M. W., Hansen, I. A., Howell, P. I., Kafatos, F. C., Kellis, M., Lawson, D., Louis, C., Luckhart, S., Muskavitch, M. A. T., Ribeiro, J. M., Riehle, M. A., Sharakhov, I. V., Tu, Z., Zwiebel, L. J. and Besansky, N. J. (2014) 'Highly evolvable malaria vectors: The genomes of 16 Anopheles mosquitoes'. Science, Vol 347, Issue (6217), 1258522.

Wilding, Craig, Weetman, David, Rippon, Emily, Steen, Keith, Mawejje, H. D., Barsukov, I. and Donnelly, Martin (2014) 'Parallel evolution or purifying selection, not introgression, explains similarity in the pyrethroid detoxification linked GSTE4 of Anopheles gambiae and An. arabiensis'. Molecular Genetics and Genomics, Vol 290, Issue 1, pp. 201-215.

Weetman, David, Steen, Keith, Rippon, Emily, Mawejje, Henry D, Donnelly, Martin and Wilding, Craig (2014) 'Contemporary gene flow between wild An. gambiae s.s. and An. arabiensis'. Parasites & Vectors, Vol 7, e345.


Selected Publications:

Insecticide resistance

Jones, C.M., Liyanapathirana, M., Agossa, F.R., Weetman, D., Ranson, H., Donnelly, M.J. and Wilding, C.S. (2012) Footprints of positive selection associated with a novel mutation (N1575Y) in the voltage gated sodium channel of Anopheles gambiae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, 6614-6619


Mitchell, S.N, Stevenson, B.J., Müller, P., Wilding, C.S., Yawson, A.E., Field S.G., Hemingway, J., Paine, M.J.I., Ranson, H. and Donnelly, M.J. (2012) Identification and validation of a gene causing cross-resistance between insecticide classes in Anopheles gambiae from Ghana. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, 6147-6152


Weetman, D., Wilding, C.S., Steen, K., Morgan, J.C., Simard, F. and Donnelly, M.J. (2010) Association mapping of insecticide resistance in wild Anopheles gambiae populations: major variants identified in a low-linkage disequilbrium genome. PLoS One 5, e13140

Lynd, A., Weetman, D., Barbosa, S., Yawson, A.E., Mitchell, S., Pinto, J., Hastings, I. and Donnelly, M.J. (2010) Field, genetic and modelling approaches show strong positive selection acting upon an insecticide resistance mutation in Anopheles gambiae s.s. Molecular Biology and Evolution 27, 1117–1125

Donnelly, M.J., Corbel, V., Weetman, D., Wilding, C.S., Williamson, M.S. and Black, W.C. IV (2009) Does kdr-genotype predict insecticide-resistance phenotype in mosquitoes? Trends in Parasitology 25, 213-219

Müller, P., Warr, E., Stevenson, B.J., Pignatelli, P.M., Morgan, J.C., Steven, A., Yawson, A.E., Mitchell, S.N., Hemingway, J., Ranson, H., Paine, M.J.I., and Donnelly, M.J.(2008) Field-caught permethrin-resistant Anopheles gambiae over-express a cytochrome P450 that metabolizes pyrethroids. PLoS Genetics 4, e1000286

Pinto, J., Lynd, A., Vicente, J.L., Santolamazza F., Randle, N.P., Caccone, A., Gentile, G., Moreno, M., Simard, F., Charlwood, J.D., do Rosário, V.E., della Torre, A. and Donnelly, M.J. (2007) Origins and distribution of knockdown resistance mutations in the afrotropical mosquito vector Anopheles gambiae. PLoS One 2, e1243

Tsetse population genetics and phylogenetics

Dyer, N.A., Ravel, S., Choi, K-S., Darby, A., Causse, S., Kapitano, B., Hall, M.J.R., Steen, K., Latumba, P., Madinga, J., Torr, S., Okedi, L.M., Lehane, M.J. and Donnelly M.J. (2011) Cryptic diversity within the major trypanosomiasis vector Glossina fuscipes revealed by molecular markers. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 5, e1266

Dyer, N. A., Furtado, A., Cano, J., Ferreira, F., Odete-Afonso, M., Ndong-Mabale, N., Ndong-Asumu, P., Centeno-Lima, S., Benito, A., Weetman, D., Donnelly, M.J. and Pinto, J. (2009) Evidence for a discrete evolutionary lineage within Equatorial Guinea suggests that the tsetse fly Glossina palpalis palpalis exists as a species complex. Molecular Ecology 18, 3268–3282

Dyer, N.A., Lawton, S.P., Ravel, S., Choi, K.S., Lehane, M.J., Robinson, A., Okedi, L., Hall, M., Solano, P.S. and Donnelly, M. J. (2008) Molecular phylogenetics of tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossina) based on mitochondrial (CO1, 16S, ND2) and nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49, 227-239

Anopheles population genetics
Weetman, D., Wilding, C.S., Steen, K., Pinto, J., and Donnelly, M.J. (2012) Gene flow–dependent genomic divergence between Anopheles gambiae M and S forms. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29, 279–291

Wilding, C.S., Weetman, D., Steen, K., and Donnelly, M.J. (2009) High, clustered, nucleotide diversity in the genome of Anopheles gambiae revealed by SNP discovery through pooled-template sequencing: implications for high-throughput genotyping protocols. BMC Genomics 10, e320

Yawson, A.E., Weetman D., Wilson, M.D. and Donnelly, M.J. (2007) Ecological zones rather than molecular forms predict genetic differentiation in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae s.s. in Ghana. Genetics 175, 751-761

Urban malaria
Klinkenberg, E., Onwona-Agyeman, K.A., McCall, P.J., Wilson, M.D., Bates, I., Verhoeff, F.H., Barnish, G. and Donnelly, M.J. (2010) Cohort study on malaria, anaemia and nutrition shows marked mass effect at low ITN coverage in urban Accra, Ghana. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 104, 496-503

Klinkenberg, E., McCall, P.J., Wilson, M.D., Amerasinghe, F.P. and Donnelly M.J. (2008) Impact of urban agriculture on malaria vectors in Accra, Ghana. Malaria Journal 7, e151

Klinkenberg, E., McCall, P.J., Wilson, M.D., Akoto, A.O., Amerasinghe, F.P., Bates, I. Verhoeff, F.H., Barnish G. and Donnelly M.J. (2006) Urban malaria and anaemia in children: a cross-sectional survey in two cities of Ghana. Tropical Medicine and International Health 11, 578-588

Klinkenberg, E., McCall, P.J., Hastings, I.M., Wilson, M.D., Amerasinghe, F.P. and Donnelly M.J. (2005) High malaria prevalence and urban agriculture in Accra, Ghana Emerging Infectious Diseases 11, 1290-1293

Donnelly M.J., McCall P.J., Lengeler C., Bates I., D'Alessandro U. Barnish G., Konradsen F., Klinkenberg E., Townson H., Trape J-F., Hastings I.M., and Mutero C. (2005) Malaria and urbanisation in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria Journal, 4, e12