COLUMBUS, Ohio Two genes that help insulin regulate mosquitoes growth have been identified as key contributors to how the insects enter a dormant state to survive winters cold.
The research finding broadens the understanding of the mosquito life cycle and appears to shed some light on how other insects and invertebrate species weather the winter months.
The shorter days of autumn trigger certain species of mosquitoes into diapause, a hibernation-like state of arrested development that allows them to survive through the winter. But this new research has determined that a hormonal response is behind the mosquitos ability to store up extra fat and halt reproductive activity in preparation for its months-long dormancy, said David Denlinger, senior author of the study and professor of entomology at Ohio State University.
The research appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Denlingers lab is working with Culex pipiens, a common mosquito in the United States and the species that carries the West Nile virus in North America. He and colleagues have identified several genes in this mosquito that function within the insulin signaling pathway, the mechanism necessary for diapause to begin. However, they focused on two genes that appear to have the most power in regulating the insects transition into a dormant state.
Were trying to decipher this whole pathway how the shortening days signal the hormonal shifts that tell mosquitoes to halt development, Denlinger said.
By disrupting the functions of these two genes, the scientists were able to both mimic hormonal circumstances that initiate diapause as well as disrupt fat retention during diapause pointing to a separate function for each gene.
While the point at this stage is fully understanding the intricacies of this life cycle, the findings could someday lead to methods to manipulate mosquito populations so they nev
|Contact: David Denlinger|
Ohio State University