In insects, the steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) coordinates major developmental transitions. While the first and the final steps of 20E biosynthesis are characterized, the pathway from 7-dehydrocholesterol to 5β-ketodiol, commonly referred as the “black box”, remains hypothetical and whether there are still unidentified enzymes is unknown. The black box would include some oxidative steps, which are believed to be mediated by P450 enzymes. To identify new enzyme(s) involved in steroid synthesis, we analyzed by small-scale microarray the expression of all the genes encoding P450 enzymes of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae in active steroidogenic organs of adults, ovaries from blood-fed females and male reproductive tracts, compared to inactive steroidogenic organs, ovaries from non-blood-fed females. Some genes encoding P450 enzymes were specifically overexpressed in female ovaries after a blood-meal or in male reproductive tracts but only three genes were found to be overexpressed in active steroidogenic organs of both females and males: cyp307a1, cyp4g16 and cyp6n1. Among these genes, only cyp307a1 has an expression pattern similar to other mosquito steroidogenic genes. Moreover, loss-of-function by transient RNAi targeting cyp307a1 disrupted ecdysteroid production demonstrating that this gene is required for ecdysteroid biosynthesis in Anopheles gambiae.
Insect storage proteins accumulate at high levels during larval development of holometabolous insects. During metamorphosis they are degraded, supplying energy and amino acids for the completion of adult development. The genome of Culex quinquefasciatus contains eleven storage protein-coding genes. Their transcripts are more abundant in larvae than in pupae and in adults. In fact, only four of these genes are transcribed in adults, two of which in blood-fed adult females but not in adult males. Transcripts corresponding to all Cx. quinquefasciatus storage proteins were detected by RT-PCR, while mass spectrometric analysis of larval and pupal proteins identified all storage proteins with the exception of one encoded by Cq LSP1.8. Our results indicate that the identified Cx. quinquefasciatus storage protein-coding genes are candidates for identifying regulatory sequences for the development of molecular tools for vector control.
The identification of mosquito vectors is typically based on morphological characteristics using morphological keys of determination, which requires entomological expertise and training. The use of protein profiling by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS), which is increasingly being used for the routine identification of bacteria, has recently emerged for arthropod identification.
To investigate the usefulness of MALDI-TOF-MS as a mosquito identification tool, we tested protein extracts made from mosquito legs to create a database of reference spectra. The database included a total of 129 laboratory-reared and field-caught mosquito specimens consisting of 20 species, including 4 Aedes spp., 9 Anopheles spp., 4 Culex spp., Lutzia tigripes, Orthopodomyia reunionensis and Mansonia uniformis. For the validation study, blind tests were performed with 76 specimens consisting of 1 to 4 individuals per species. A cluster analysis was carried out using the MALDI-Biotyper and some spectra from all mosquito species tested.
Biomarker mass sets containing 22 and 43 masses have been detected from 100 specimens of the Anopheles, Aedes and Culex species. By carrying out 3 blind tests, we achieved the identification of mosquito vectors at the species level, including the differentiation of An. gambiae complex, which is possible using MALDI-TOF-MS with 1.8 as the cut-off identification score. A cluster analysis performed with all available mosquito species showed that MALDI-Biotyper can distinguish between specimens at the subspecies level, as demonstrated for An gambiae M and S, but this method cannot yet be considered a reliable tool for the phylogenetic study of mosquito species.
We confirmed that even without any specific expertise, MALDI-TOF-MS profiling of mosquito leg protein extracts can be used for the rapid identification of mosquito vectors. Therefore, MALDI-TOF-MS is an alternative, efficient and inexpensive tool that can accurately identify mosquitoes collected in the field during entomological surveys.
Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) has been successfully implemented to control, and in some cases, eradicate, dipteran insect populations. SIT has great potential as a mosquito control method. Different sterilization methods have been used on mosquitoes ranging from chemosterilization to genetically modified sterile male mosquito strains; however, sterilization with ionizing radiation is the method of choice for effective sterilization of male insects for most species. The lack of gentle radiation methods has resulted in significant complications when SIT has been applied to mosquitoes. Several studies report that irradiating mosquitoes resulted in a decrease in longevity and mating success compared to unirradiated males.
The present study explored new protocols for mosquito sterilization with ionizing radiation that minimized detrimental effects on the longevity of irradiated males.
We tested three compounds that have been shown to act as radioprotectors in the mouse model system - ethanol, trimethylglycine, and beer. Male Aedes aegypti were treated with one of three chosen potential radioprotectors and were subsequently irradiated with identical doses of long-wavelength X-rays. We evaluated the effect of these radioprotectors on the longevity of male mosquito after irradiation.
We found that X-ray irradiation with an absorbed dose of 1.17 gy confers complete sterility. Irradiation with this dose significantly shortened the lifespan of male mosquitoes and all three radioprotectors tested significantly enhanced the lifespan of irradiated mosquito males.
Our results suggest that treatment with ethanol, beer, or trimethylglycine before irradiation can be used to enhance longevity in mosquitoes.
Sterile insect technique; Mosquitoes; Aedes aegypti; X-rays; Radioprotectors; Trimethylglycine; Ethanol; Beer; Survival; Longevity; Sterility; Fecundity
The piggyBac transposon, originating in the genome of the Lepidoptera Trichoplusia ni, has a broad host range, making it useful for the development of a number of transposon-based functional genomic technologies including gene vectors, enhancer-, gene- and protein-traps. While capable of being used as a vector for the creation of transgenic insects and insect cell lines, piggyBac has very limited mobility once integrated into the genome of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. A transgenic Aedes aegypti cell line (AagPB8) was created containing three integrated piggyBac elements and the remobilization potential of the elements was tested. The integrated piggyBac elements in AagPB8 were transpositionally silent in the presence of functional transposase, which was shown to be capable of catalyzing the movement of plasmid-borne piggyBac elements in the same cells. The structural integrity of one of the integrated elements along with the quality of element-flanking DNA, which is known to influence transposition rates, were tested in D. melanogaster. The element was found to be structurally intact, capable of transposition and excision in the soma and germ-line of Drosophila melanogaster, and in a DNA sequence context highly conducive to element movement in Drosophila melanogaster. These data show that transpositional silencing of integrated piggyBac elements in the genome of Aedes aegypti appears to be a function of higher scale genome organization or perhaps epigenetic factors, and not due to structural defects or suboptimal integration sites.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do not have a typical functional urea cycle for ammonia disposal such as the one present in most terrestrial vertebrates. However, they can synthesize urea by two different pathways, argininolysis and uricolysis. We investigated how formation of urea by these two pathways is regulated in females of A. aegypti. The expression of arginase (AR) and urate oxidase (UO), either separately or simultaneously (ARUO) was silenced by RNAi. The amounts of several nitrogen compounds were quantified in excreta using mass spectrometry. Injection of mosquitoes with either dsRNA-AR or dsRNA-UO significantly decreased the expressions of AR or UO in the fat body (FB) and Malpighian tubules (MT). Surprisingly, the expression level of AR was increased when UO was silenced and vice versa, suggesting a cross-talk regulation between pathways. In agreement with these data, the amount of urea measured 48 h after blood feeding remained unchanged in those mosquitoes injected with dsRNA-AR or dsRNA-UO. However, allantoin significantly increased in the excreta of dsRNA-AR-injected females. The knockdown of ARUO mainly led to a decrease in urea and allantoin excretion, and an increase in arginine excretion. In addition, dsRNA-AR-injected mosquitoes treated with a specific nitric oxide synthase inhibitor showed an increase of UO expression in FB and MT and a significant increase in the excretion of nitrogen compounds. Interestingly, both a temporary delay in the digestion of a blood meal and a significant reduction in the expression of several genes involved in ammonia metabolism were observed in dsRNA-AR, UO or ARUO-injected females. These results reveal that urea synthesis and excretion in A. aegypti are tightly regulated by a unique cross-talk signaling mechanism. This process allows blood-fed mosquitoes to regulate the synthesis and/or excretion of nitrogen waste products, and avoid toxic effects that could result from a lethal concentration of ammonia in their tissues.
Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever take a large toll on global health. The primary chemical agents used for controlling mosquitoes are insecticides that target the nervous system. However, the emergence of resistance in mosquito populations is reducing the efficacy of available insecticides. The development of new insecticides is therefore urgent. Here we show that VU573, a small-molecule inhibitor of mammalian inward-rectifying potassium (Kir) channels, inhibits a Kir channel cloned from the renal (Malpighian) tubules of Aedes aegypti (AeKir1). Injection of VU573 into the hemolymph of adult female mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti) disrupts the production and excretion of urine in a manner consistent with channel block of AeKir1 and renders the mosquitoes incapacitated (flightless or dead) within 24 hours. Moreover, the toxicity of VU573 in mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti) is exacerbated when hemolymph potassium levels are elevated, suggesting that Kir channels are essential for maintenance of whole-animal potassium homeostasis. Our study demonstrates that renal failure is a promising mechanism of action for killing mosquitoes, and motivates the discovery of selective small-molecule inhibitors of mosquito Kir channels for use as insecticides.
In this study, we investigated inhibition of the phosphorylation of adenosine 5′-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) by prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH) in prothoracic glands of the silkworm, Bombyx mori. We found that treatment with PTTH in vitro inhibited AMPK phosphorylation in time- and dose-dependent manners, as seen on Western blots of glandular lysates probed with antibody directed against AMPKα phosphorylated at Thr172. Moreover, in vitro inhibition of AMPK phosphorylation by PTTH was also verified by in vivo experiments: injection of PTTH into day 7 last instar larvae greatly inhibited glandular AMPK phosphorylation. PTTH-inhibited AMPK phosphorylation appeared to be partially reversed by treatment with LY294002, indicating involvement of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. A chemical activator of AMPK (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-d-ribofuranoside, AICAR) increased both basal and PTTH-inhibited AMPK phosphorylation. Treatment with AICAR also inhibited PTTH-stimulated ecdysteroidogenesis of prothoracic glands. The mechanism underlying inhibition of PTTH-stimulated ecdysteroidogenesis by AICAR was further investigated by determining the phosphorylation of eIF4E-binding protein (4E-BP) and p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase (S6K), two known downstream signaling targets of the target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1). Upon treatment with AICAR, decreases in PTTH-stimulated phosphorylation of 4E-BP and S6K were detected. In addition, treatment with AICAR did not affect PTTH-stimulated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation, indicating that AMPK phosphorylation is not upstream signaling for ERK phosphorylation. Examination of gene expression levels of AMPKα, β, and γ by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) showed that PTTH did not affect AMPK transcription. From these results, it is assumed that inhibition of AMPK phosphorylation, which lies upstream of PTTH-stimulated TOR signaling, may play a role in PTTH stimulation of ecdysteroidogenesis.
An important function of the fat body in adult female mosquitoes is the conversion of blood meal derived amino acids (AA) into massive amounts of yolk protein precursors. A highly efficient transport mechanism for AAs across the plasma membrane of the fat body trophocytes is essential in order to deliver building blocks for the rapid synthesis of large amounts of these proteins. This mechanism consists in part of AA transporter proteins from the solute carrier family. These transporters have dual function; they function as transporters and participate in the nutrient signal transduction pathway that is activated in the fat body after a blood meal. In this study we focused on the solute carrier 7 family (SLC7), a family of AA transporters present in all metazoans that includes members with strong substrate specificity for cationic AAs.
We identified eleven putative SLC7 transporters in the genome sequence of Aedes aegypti. Phylogenetic analysis puts five of these in the cationic AA transporter subfamily (CAT) and six in the heterodimeric AA transporter (HAT) subfamily. All eleven Aedes aegypti SLC7 genes are expressed in adult females. Expression profiles are dynamic after a blood meal. We knocked down six fat body-expressed SLC7 transporters using RNAi and found that these ‘knockdowns’ reduced AA-induced TOR signaling. We also determined the effect these knockdowns had on the number of eggs deposited following a blood meal.
Our analysis stresses the importance of SLC7 transporters in TOR signaling pathway and mosquito reproduction.
SLC7 transporter; Mosquito; Target of rapamycin; Amino acid; Aedes aegypti; RNA interference
In addition to its role as the primary vector for dengue viruses, Aedes aegypti has a long history as a genetic model organism for other bloodfeeding mosquitoes, due to its ease of colonization, maintenance and reproductive productivity. Though its genome has been sequenced, functional characterization of many Ae. aegypti genes, pathways and behaviors has been slow. TALE nucleases (TALENs) have been used with great success in a number of organisms to generate site-specific DNA lesions. We evaluated the ability of a TALEN pair to target the Ae. aegypti kmo gene, whose protein product is essential in the production of eye pigmentation. Following injection into pre-blastoderm embryos, 20–40% of fertile survivors produced kmo alleles that failed to complement an existing khw mutation. Most of these individuals produced more than 20% white-eyed progeny, with some producing up to 75%. Mutant alleles were associated with lesions of 1–7 bp specifically at the selected target site. White-eyed individuals could also be recovered following a blind intercross of G1 progeny, yielding several new white-eyed strains in the genetic background of the sequenced Liverpool strain. We conclude that TALENs are highly active in the Ae. aegypti germline, and have the potential to transform how reverse genetic experiments are performed in this important disease vector.
In firefly light organs, reflector layer is a specialized tissue which is believed to play a key role for increasing the bioluminescence intensity through reflection. However, the nature of this unique tissue remains elusive. In this report, we investigated the role, fine structure and nature of the reflector layer in the light organ of adult Luciola cerata.
Our results indicated that the reflector layer is capable of reflecting bioluminescence, and contains abundant uric acid. Electron microscopy (EM) demonstrated that the cytosol of the reflector layer's cells is filled with densely packed spherical granules, which should be the uric acid granules. These granules are highly regular in size (∼700 nm in diameter), and exhibit a radial internal structure. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses revealed that an intense single peak pattern with a d-spacing value of 0.320 nm is specifically detected in the light organ, and is highly similar to the diffraction peak pattern and d-spacing value of needle-formed crystals of monosodium urate monohydrate. However, the molar ratio evaluation of uric acid to various cations (K+, Na+, Ca2+ and Mg2+) in the light organ deduced that only a few uric acid molecules were in the form of urate salts. Thus, non-salt uric acid should be the source of the diffraction signal detected in the light organ.
In the light organ, the intense single peak diffraction signal might come from a unique needle-like uric acid form, which is different from other known structures of non-salt uric acid form. The finding of a radial structure in the granules of reflector layer implies that the spherical uric acid granules might be formed by the radial arrangement of needle-formed packing matter.
In Drosophila melanogaster the doublesex (dsx) and fruitless (fru) regulatory genes act at the bottom of the somatic sex determination pathway. Both are regulated via alternative splicing by an upstream female-specific TRA/TRA-2 complex, recognizing a common cis element. dsx controls somatic sexual differentiation of non-neural as well as of neural tissues. fru, on the other hand, expresses male-specific functions only in neural system where it is required to built the neural circuits underlying proper courtship behaviour. In the mosquito Aedes aegypti sex determination is different from Drosophila. The key male determiner M, which is located on one of a pair of homomorphic sex chromosomes, controls sex-specific splicing of the mosquito dsx orthologue. In this study we report the genomic organization and expression of the fru homologue in Ae. aegypti (Aeafru). We found that it is sex-specifically spliced suggesting that it is also under the control of the sex determination pathway. Comparative analyses between the Aeafru and Anopheles gambiae fru (Angfru) genomic loci revealed partial conservation of exon organization and extensive divergence of intron lengths. We find that Aeadsx and Aeafru share novel cis splicing regulatory elements conserved in the alternatively spliced regions. We propose that in Aedes aegypti sex-specific splicing of dsx and fru is most likely under the control of splicing regulatory factors which are different from TRA and TRA-2 found in other dipteran insects and discuss the potential use of fru and dsx for developing new genetic strategies in vector control.
Blowflies are economic pests of the wool industry and potential vectors for epidemics. The establishment of a pesticide-free, environmentally friendly blowfly control strategy is necessary. Blowflies must feed on meat in order to initiate the cascade of events that are involved in reproduction including juvenile hormone synthesis, vitellogenesis, and mating. During feeding blowflies regurgitate salivary lipase, which may play a role in releasing fatty acids from triglycerides that are found in food. However, long-chain fatty acids show low solubility in aqueous solutions. In order to solubilize and ingest the released hydrophobic fatty acids, the blowflies must use a solubilizer.
We applied native PAGE, Edman degradation, cDNA cloning, and RT-PCR to characterize a protein that accumulated in the oral disk of the black blowfly, Phormia regina. In situ hybridization was carried out to localize the expression at the cellular level. A fluorescence competitive binding assay was used to identify potential ligands of this protein.
A protein newly identified from P. regina (PregOBP56a) belonged to the classic odorant-binding protein (OBP) family. This gene was expressed in a cluster of cells that was localized between pseudotracheae on the oral disk, which are not accessory cells of the taste peg chemosensory sensilla that normally synthesize OBPs. At pH 7 and pH 6, PregOBP56a bound palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic acids, that are mainly found in chicken meat. The binding affinity of PregOBP56a decreased at pH 5. We propose that PregOBP56a is a protein that solubilizes fatty acids during feeding and subsequently helps to deliver the fatty acids to the midgut where it may help in the process of reproduction. As such, PregOBP56a is a potential molecular target for controlling the blowfly.
In recent years, bed bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) problems have increased dramatically in many parts of the world, leading to a renewed interest in their chemical ecology. Most studies of bed bug semiochemicals have been based on the collection of volatiles over a period of time followed by chemical analysis. Here we present for the first time, a combination of proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry and video analysis for real-time measurement of semiochemicals emitted by isolated groups of bed bugs during specific behavioural activities. The most distinct peaks in the proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry recordings were always observed close to the termination of mating attempts, corresponding to the defensive emissions that bed bugs have been suspected to exploit for prevention of unwanted copulations. The main components of these emissions were (E)-2-hexenal and (E)-2-octenal recorded in ratios between 1∶3 and 3∶1. In the current study, the quantity varied over 1000 fold for both of the compounds with up to 40 µg total release in a single emission. Males also emit defensive compounds due to homosexual copulation attempts by other males, and no significant differences were observed in the ratio or the amount of the two components released from males or females. In summary, this study has demonstrated that combining proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry with video analysis can provide detailed information about semiochemicals emitted during specific behavioural activities.
Evolution of anthropophilic hematophagy in insects resulted in the coordination of various physiological processes for survival. In female mosquitoes, a large blood meal provides proteins for egg production and as a trade-off, rapid elimination of the excess water and solutes (Na+, Cl−) is critical for maintaining homeostasis and removing excess weight to resume flight and avoid predation. This post-prandial excretion is achieved by the concerted action of multiple hormones. Diuresis and natriuresis elicited by the calcitonin-like diuretic hormone 31 (DH31) are believed to be mediated by a yet uncharacterized calcitonin receptor (GPRCAL) in the mosquito Malpighian tubules (MTs), the renal organs. To contribute knowledge on endocrinology of mosquito diuresis we cloned GPRCAL1 from MT cDNA. This receptor is the ortholog of the DH31 receptor from Drosophila melanogaster that is expressed in principal cells of the fruit fly MT. Immunofluorescence similarly showed AaegGPRCAL1 is present in MT principal cells in A. aegypti, however, exhibiting an overall gradient-like pattern along the tubule novel for a GPCR in insects. Variegated, cell-specific receptor expression revealed a subpopulation of otherwise phenotypically similar principal cells. To investigate the receptor contribution to fluid elimination, RNAi was followed by urine measurement assays. In vitro, MTs from females that underwent AaegGPRcal1 knock-down exhibited up to 57% decrease in the rate of fluid secretion in response to DH31. Live females treated with AaegGPRcal1 dsRNA exhibited 30% reduction in fluid excreted after a blood meal. The RNAi-induced phenotype demonstrates the critical contribution of this single secretin-like family B GPCR to fluid excretion in invertebrates and highlights its relevance for the blood feeding adaptation. Our results with the mosquito AaegGPRCAL1 imply that the regulatory function of calcitonin-like receptors for ion and fluid transport in renal organs arose early in evolution.
Avian malaria is an important cause of the decline of endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers. Because of the complexity of this disease system we used a computer model of avian malaria in forest birds to evaluate how two proposed conservation strategies: 1) reduction of habitat for mosquito larvae and 2) establishment of a low-elevation, malaria-tolerant honeycreeper (Hawaii Amakihi) to mid-elevation forests would affect native Hawaiian honeycreeper populations. We evaluated these approaches in mid-elevation forests, where malaria transmission is seasonal and control strategies are more likely to work. Our model suggests the potential benefit of larval habitat reduction depends on the level of malaria transmission, abundance of larval cavities, and the ability to substantially reduce these cavities. Permanent reduction in larval habitat of >80% may be needed to control abundance of infectious mosquitoes and benefit bird populations. Establishment of malaria-tolerant Amakihi in mid-elevation forests increases Amakihi abundance, creates a larger disease reservoir, and increases the abundance of infectious mosquitoes which may negatively impact other honeycreepers. For mid-elevation sites where bird populations are severely affected by avian malaria, malaria-tolerant Amakihi had little impact on other honeycreepers. Both management strategies may benefit native Hawaiian honeycreepers, but benefits depend on specific forest characteristics, the amount of reduction in larval habitat that can be achieved, and how malaria transmission is affected by temperature.
The rice leaf folder (RLF), Cnaphalocrocis medinalis (Guenee) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), is one of the most destructive pests affecting rice in Asia. Although several studies have been performed on the ecological and physiological aspects of this species, the molecular mechanisms underlying its developmental regulation, behavior, and insecticide resistance remain largely unknown. Presently, there is a lack of genomic information for RLF; therefore, studies aimed at profiling the RLF transcriptome expression would provide a better understanding of its biological function at the molecular level.
De novo assembly of the RLF transcriptome was performed via the short read sequencing technology (Illumina). In a single run, we produced more than 23 million sequencing reads that were assembled into 44,941 unigenes (mean size = 474 bp) by Trinity. Through a similarity search, 25,281 (56.82%) unigenes matched known proteins in the NCBI Nr protein database. The transcriptome sequences were annotated with gene ontology (GO), cluster of orthologous groups of proteins (COG), and KEGG orthology (KO). Additionally, we profiled gene expression during RLF development using a tag-based digital gene expression (DGE) system. Five DGE libraries were constructed, and variations in gene expression were compared between collected samples: eggs vs. 3rd instar larvae, 3rd instar larvae vs. pupae, pupae vs. adults. The results demonstrated that thousands of genes were significantly differentially expressed during various developmental stages. A number of the differentially expressed genes were confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR).
The RLF transcriptome and DGE data provide a comprehensive and global gene expression profile that would further promote our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying various biological characteristics, including development, elevated fecundity, flight, sex differentiation, olfactory behavior, and insecticide resistance in RLF. Therefore, these findings could help elucidate the intrinsic factors involved in the RLF-mediated destruction of rice and offer sustainable insect pest management.
Knowing the underlying mechanisms of mosquito ecology will ensure effective vector management and contribute to the overall goal of malaria control. Mosquito populations show a high degree of population plasticity in response to environmental variability. However, the principle factors controlling population size and fecundity are for the most part unknown. Larval habitat and diet play a crucial role in subsequent mosquito fitness. Developing the most competitive insects for sterile insect technique programmes requires a “production” orientated perspective, to deduce the most effective larval diet formulation; the information gained from this process offers us some insight into the mechanisms and processes taking place in natural native mosquito habitats.
Fatty acid profiles and de-novo or direct assimilation pathways, of whole-individual mosquitoes reared on a range of larval diets were determined using pyrolysis gas chromatograph/mass spectrometry. We used elemental analysis and isotope ratio mass spectrometry to measure individual-whole-body carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous values and to assess the impact of dietary quality on subsequent population stoichiometry, size, quality and isotopic signature. Diet had the greatest impact on fatty acid (FA) profiles of the mosquitoes, which exhibited a high degree of dietary routing, characteristic of generalist feeders. De-novo synthesis of a number of important FAs was observed. Mosquito C:N stoichiometry was fixed in the teneral stage. Dietary N content had significant influence on mosquito size, and P was shown to be a flexible pool which limited overall population size.
Direct routing of FAs was evident but there was ubiquitous de-novo synthesis suggesting mosquito larvae are competent generalist feeders capable of survival on diet with varying characteristics. It was concluded that nitrogen availability in the larval diet controlled teneral mosquito size and that teneral CN ratio is a sex- and species-specific fixed parameter. This finding has significant implications for overall mosquito competitiveness and environmental management.
Expression of sterol carrier protein-2 (SCP-2) in Aedes aegypti shows a distinct temporal/spatial pattern throughout the life cycle. In order to identify the transcription factors responsible for the larval temporal/spatial regulation of AeSCP-2 transcription, AeSCP-2 promoter activities were studied in vivo via transient transfection of promoter/reporter gene assays. Regulatory sequences upstream −1.3 kb of the transcription start site of AeSCP-2 were found to be critical for the in vivo temporal/spatial promoter activity. Interestingly, the −1.6 kb promoter sequence efficiently drove the larval midgut-specific siRNA expression, indicating that the −1.6 kb upstream sequence is sufficient for temporal/spatial AeSCP-2 transcriptional activity. Four transcription factors were identified in the midgut nuclear extract from feeding larvae via labeled −1.6/−1.3 kb DNA probe pull-down and proteomic analysis. Co-transfection of the promoter/reporter gene with inducible siRNA expression of each transcription factor was performed to confirm the regulatory function of individual transcription factor on AeSCP-2 transcriptional activities in the larval midgut. The results indicate that two of the identified transcription factors, Thanatos-associated protein (THAP) and activating transcription factor-2 (ATF-2), antagonistically control AeSCP-2 transcriptional activity in the midgut of feeding larvae via the regulatory sequences between −1.6 to −1.3 kb 5′ upstream of the transcription start site. In vivo expression knockdown of THAP and ATF-2 resulted in significant changes in developmental progression, which may be partially due to their effects on AeSCP-2 expression.
Natural insecticides against the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti have been the object of research due to their high level of eco-safety. The water-soluble Moringa oleifera lectin (WSMoL) is a larvicidal agent against A. aegypti. This work reports the effects of WSMoL on oviposition and egg hatching of A. aegypti.
WSMoL crude preparations (seed extract and 0–60 protein fraction), at 0.1 mg/mL protein concentration, did not affect oviposition, while A. aegypti gravid females laid their eggs preferentially (73%) in vessels containing isolated WSMoL (0.1 mg/mL), compared with vessels containing only distilled water (control). Volatile compounds were not detected in WSMoL preparation. The hatchability of fresh eggs deposited in the solutions in the oviposition assay was evaluated. The numbers of hatched larvae in seed extract, 0–60 protein fraction and WSMoL were 45±8.7 %, 20±11 % and 55±7.5 %, respectively, significantly (p<0.05) lower than in controls containing only distilled water (75–95%). Embryos were visualized inside fresh control eggs, but not within eggs that were laid and maintained in WSMoL solution. Ovicidal activity was also assessed using stored A. aegypti eggs. The protein concentrations able to reduce the hatching rate by 50% (EC50) were 0.32, 0.16 and 0.1 mg/mL for seed extract, 0–60 protein fraction and WSMoL, respectively. The absence of hatching of stored eggs treated with WSMoL at 0.3 mg/mL (EC99) after transfer to medium without lectin indicates that embryos within the eggs were killed by WSMoL. The reduction in hatching rate of A. aegypti was not linked to decrease in bacteria population.
WSMoL acted both as a chemical stimulant cue for ovipositing females and ovicidal agent at a given concentration. The oviposition-stimulant and ovicidal activities, combined with the previously reported larvicidal activity, make WSMoL a very interesting candidate in integrated A. aegypti control.
The MEAM1 (B biotype) Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) is one of the most widespread and damaging whitefly cryptic species. Our previous studies discovered that the MEAM1 whitefly indirectly benefits from interactions with the tomato yellow leaf curl China virus (TYLCCNV) via accelerated ovarian development and increased fecundity. However, the physiological mechanism of begomoviruse-infected plants acting on the reproduction of the insect vector was unknown.
Biochemical and molecular properties of vitellogenin (Vg) and vitellin (Vt) were characterized in the MEAM1 whitefly. In addition, kinetics of Vt levels in ovary and Vg levels in hemolymph in different stages were detected using a sandwich ELISA. The level of hemolymph Vg increased rapidly after eclosion. A significantly higher level of hemolymph Vg and ovary Vt were observed in whiteflies feeding on virus-infected tobacco plants than those feeding on uninfected plants. In order to detect the levels of Vg mRNA transcription, complete vitellogenin (Vg) mRNA transcripts of 6474 bp were sequenced. Vg mRNA level in whiteflies feeding on virus-infected plants was higher than those feeding on uninfected plants. However, virus-infection of the whiteflies per se, as demonstrated using an artificial diet system, did not produce significant changes in Vg mRNA level.
In MEAM1 whitefly, increased levels of both vitellin and vitellogenin as well as increased transcription of Vg mRNA are associated with feeding on begomovirus-infected plants, thus providing a mechanism for accelerated vitellogenesis. We conclude that MEAM1 whitefly profits from feeding on begomovirus-infected plants for yolk protein synthesis and uptake, and thereby increases its fecundity. These results not only provide insights into the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying the elevated reproduction of a whitefly species through its association with a begomovirus-infected plant, but also provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms related to whitefly reproduction.
The low survival of microbial pest control agents exposed to UV is the major environmental factor limiting their effectiveness. Using gene disruption we demonstrated that the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium robertsii uses photolyases to remove UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD) and pyrimidine (6-4) photoproducts [(6-4)PPs] from its DNA. However, this photorepair is insufficient to fix CPD lesions and prevent the loss of viability caused by seven hours of solar radiation. Expression of a highly efficient archaeal (Halobacterium salinarum) CPD photolyase increased photorepair >30-fold in both M. robertsii and Beauveria bassiana. Consequently, transgenic strains were much more resistant to sunlight and retained virulence against the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. In the field this will translate into much more efficient pest control over a longer time period. Conversely, our data shows that deleting native photolyase genes will strictly contain M. robertsii to areas protected from sunlight, alleviating safety concerns that transgenic hypervirulent Metarhizium spp will spread from mosquito traps or houses. The precision and malleability of the native and transgenic photolyases allows design of multiple pathogens with different strategies based on the environments in which they will be used.
The use of vector surveillance tools for preventing dengue disease requires fine assessment of risk, in order to improve vector control activities. Nevertheless, the thresholds between vector detection and dengue fever occurrence are currently not well established. In Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais, Brazil), dengue has been endemic for several years. From January 2007 to June 2008, the dengue vector Aedes (Stegomyia) aegypti was monitored by ovitrap, the sticky-trap MosquiTRAP™ and larval surveys in an study area in Belo Horizonte. Using a space-time scan for clusters detection implemented in SaTScan software, the vector presence recorded by the different monitoring methods was evaluated. Clusters of vectors and dengue fever were detected. It was verified that ovitrap and MosquiTRAP vector detection methods predicted dengue occurrence better than larval survey, both spatially and temporally. MosquiTRAP and ovitrap presented similar results of space-time intersections to dengue fever clusters. Nevertheless ovitrap clusters presented longer duration periods than MosquiTRAP ones, less acuratelly signalizing the dengue risk areas, since the detection of vector clusters during most of the study period was not necessarily correlated to dengue fever occurrence. It was verified that ovitrap clusters occurred more than 200 days (values ranged from 97.0±35.35 to 283.0±168.4 days) before dengue fever clusters, whereas MosquiTRAP clusters preceded dengue fever clusters by approximately 80 days (values ranged from 65.5±58.7 to 94.0±14. 3 days), the former showing to be more temporally precise. Thus, in the present cluster analysis study MosquiTRAP presented superior results for signaling dengue transmission risks both geographically and temporally. Since early detection is crucial for planning and deploying effective preventions, MosquiTRAP showed to be a reliable tool and this method provides groundwork for the development of even more precise tools.
In insects, odorant receptors detect volatile cues involved in behaviours such as mate recognition, food location and oviposition. We have investigated the evolution of three odorant receptors from five species within the moth genera Ctenopseustis and Planotrotrix, family Tortricidae, which fall into distinct clades within the odorant receptor multigene family. One receptor is the orthologue of the co-receptor Or83b, now known as Orco (OR2), and encodes the obligate ion channel subunit of the receptor complex. In comparison, the other two receptors, OR1 and OR3, are ligand-binding receptor subunits, activated by volatile compounds produced by plants - methyl salicylate and citral, respectively. Rates of sequence evolution at non-synonymous sites were significantly higher in OR1 compared with OR2 and OR3. Within the dataset OR1 contains 109 variable amino acid positions that are distributed evenly across the entire protein including transmembrane helices, loop regions and termini, while OR2 and OR3 contain 18 and 16 variable sites, respectively. OR2 shows a high level of amino acid conservation as expected due to its essential role in odour detection; however we found unexpected differences in the rate of evolution between two ligand-binding odorant receptors, OR1 and OR3. OR3 shows high sequence conservation suggestive of a conserved role in odour reception, whereas the higher rate of evolution observed in OR1, particularly at non-synonymous sites, may be suggestive of relaxed constraint, perhaps associated with the loss of an ancestral role in sex pheromone reception.
In the midgut of the mosquito Aedes aegypti, a vector of dengue and yellow fever, an intense release of heme and iron takes place during the digestion of a blood meal. Here, we demonstrated via chromatography, light absorption and mass spectrometry that xanthurenic acid (XA), a product of the oxidative metabolism of tryptophan, is produced in the digestive apparatus after the ingestion of a blood meal and reaches milimolar levels after 24 h, the period of maximal digestive activity. XA formation does not occur in the White Eye (WE) strain, which lacks kynurenine hydroxylase and accumulates kynurenic acid. The formation of XA can be diminished by feeding the insect with 3,4-dimethoxy-N-[4-(3-nitrophenyl)thiazol-2-yl] benzenesulfonamide (Ro-61-8048), an inhibitor of XA biosynthesis. Moreover, XA inhibits the phospholipid oxidation induced by heme or iron. A major fraction of this antioxidant activity is due to the capacity of XA to bind both heme and iron, which occurs at a slightly alkaline pH (7.5-8.0), a condition found in the insect midgut. The midgut epithelial cells of the WE mosquito has a marked increase in occurrence of cell death, which is reversed to levels similar to the wild type mosquitoes by feeding the insects with blood supplemented with XA, confirming the protective role of this molecule. Collectively, these results suggest a new role for XA as a heme and iron chelator that provides protection as an antioxidant and may help these animals adapt to a blood feeding habit.