July 14, 2018
Entomologists at the University of California, Riverside have received a five-year grant of $2.44 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, to investigate the role hormones play in the female mosquito’s ability to use human blood for egg production.
Vector mosquitoes need vertebrate blood to develop each batch of their eggs. As a result, reproduction in female mosquitoes is closely linked to blood feeding. The NIAID funding—a competitive National Institutes of Health grant renewal—will allow the entomologists to introduce novel research tools for genetic manipulation, such as CRISPR, in their exploration of the genetic basis for the hormonal control of mosquito reproduction.
“A clear understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating egg development in mosquitoes can play a critical role in our coming up with innovative and novel vector control methods,” said Alexander Raikhel, a distinguished professor of entomology who will lead the project along with Sourav Roy, an assistant professional researcher who received his doctorate at UCR and joined the Raikhel lab in 2011.
The research project, titled “Molecular Basis of Ecdysteroid Action in the Mosquito,” is expected to help Raikhel, Roy, and others in Raikhel’s lab identify targets that can block the reproduction of female mosquitoes, thereby resulting in significant declines in mosquito populations and the dangerous diseases they transmit.