Athens, GA –UGA scientists have found a new hormone receptor that affects how mosquitoes reproduce and spread diseases. The goal of this research is to one day find a way to stop mosquito reproduction and the spread of malaria and other diseases. The two hormones (insulin-like peptides and ovary ecdysteroid-ogenic hormones) needed for reproduction have correlating receptors. Kevin Vogel, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow, says the receptors and hormones fit like a lock-and-key. Without one, the other simply doesn’t work.
Vogel says entomologists have been looking for those matching receptors for around 20 years. The receptor for the ILP was found in 2008, but the receptor for the OEH was never found. Until, now.
Vogel, Dr. Michael Strand, and Dr. Mark Brown tested two different species of fruit flies and three different types of mosquitos. One of the fruit fly species did not have the OEH, therefore, it did not have the receptor they were looking for. By comparing more than 400 receptors in the remaining species, they identified a single gene for a receptor with an unknown function. They realized that receptor was the one they were looking for, because once that receptor was blocked, mosquitoes could not produce eggs.
While Vogel says this research is very far removed right now, the hope is to one day lower the population of dangerous mosquitoes. He explained how mosquitoes are very resilient insects, and they are becoming immune to many pesticides used throughout the world. If this research is later applied to the creation of a new pesticide, the reproduction of these deadly insects can be halted. Consequently, their population can be lowered.