Supported by the French Academy of Sciences and the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Prix Tremplin ASEAN recognizes outstanding scientific cooperation between France and the ASEAN region (Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam). Sylvie Manguin and Stéphane Jouannic, two IRD scientists, are laureates of this 2022-2023 edition.

The six winners of the Prix Tremplin ASEAN presented their projects at the Academy of Sciences' international awards conference in Paris on June 13. Among them were two IRD scientists: Sylvie Manguin, a medical and molecular entomologist at Hydrosciences Montpellier, and Stéphane Jouannic, a plant molecular biologist specializing in developmental biology at the UMR DIADE (Plant Diversity, Adaptation and Development) in Montpellier.

Sylvie Manguin, medical and molecular entomologist


What project are you working on with your partner in Thailand?

Our work involves studying the prevalence of simian ?Parasites affecting monkeys parasites in areas with macaque populations, in order to assess the threat of this zoonosis to the human population in Thailand. The aim is also to determine which species of Anopheles mosquitoes are capable of transmitting simian parasites to humans.

In the context of One Health, we aim to explore the biological characteristics of vectors and the transmission dynamics of simian malaria, in order to facilitate the elimination of malaria in Thailand, scheduled for 2024.


How did this Franco-Thai partnership with Theeraphap Chareonviriyaphap, Professor of Entomology and Parasitology at Kasetsart University (KU) in Bangkok, come about?

Our collaboration is a long-standing one, which began in 2004 and has never ceased. Our shared interest in the study of pathogen vectors, particularly mosquitoes, has enabled us to forge a solid relationship based on esteem and trust. All his students have come to train in my laboratory in Montpellier, and I have been teaching for 15 years at Kasetsart University, where I was honored to be awarded the title of Assistant Professor this year.


What are the prospects for the future, thanks in particular to the Prix Tremplin ASEAN?

To continue our collaborative work to study simian malaria vectors, with the aim of controlling them as effectively as possible and avoiding, as in Malaysia, the increase in cases of simian malaria in human populations. Winning this prize honours us and reinforces the work we've been doing together for almost 20 years. It's a real recognition of our partnership and all the work we've done.

Stéphane Jouannic, plant molecular biologist


What project are you working on with your partner in Vietnam?

We are working on rice growth, adaptation to environmental stress and yield potential. The aim is to integrate the results obtained into rice improvement programs in Vietnam, and to contribute to the enhancement of its genetic diversity, which is particularly strong in this region due to the heterogeneity of the agrosystems encountered.


How did you set up this partnership with Hoang Thi Giang, a researcher specializing in rice in Vietnam, at the Agricultural Genetics Institute (AGI) in Hanoi?

In addition to Hoang Thi Giang, the project also involves Pascal Gantet, Researcher at UMR DIADE and Professor at the University of Montpellier, and Khong Nang Giang, Researcher at AGI. This partnership was initiated within the framework of the RICE International Joint Laboratory (IJL), active from 2011 to 2019 in Hanoi. Since 2020, scientific activities have continued under a trilateral agreement between the University of Montpellier, IRD and AGI. Pascal Gantet and I were on long-term mobility assignments there in 2011-2015 and 2013-2016 respectively. It was during this period that we co-constructed and carried out our research in partnership with Hoang Thi Giang and Khong Nang Giang. Since then, our collaboration has continued thanks to the support of the IRD and Montpellier University of Excellence (MUSE), as well as the joint supervision of students and PhD candidates.


What are the prospects for the future, thanks in particular to this award?

For us, this award is recognition of all the work we've carried out in collaboration with our partners in Vietnam, and an encouragement for future projects. A vast amount of data has been generated over the years, and the next step is to analyze it to better understand the interactions between plant morphology and tolerance to environmental stresses. This will ultimately help define the best plant types for local crop improvement programs.


On October 17, the six winners will each receive a prize of 22,000 euros to strengthen bilateral scientific cooperation between French teams and partner teams in the ASEAN zone.