Today PI Meuti presented her research at the University of Kentucky where she gave a seminar to the Entomology Department. The seminar focused on two key areas of Megan’s work. First, her findings of how the circadian clock might be telling female mosquitoes what time of year it is. Second, she presented preliminary data suggesting that male mosquitoes can also respond to daylength and change the composition of their accessory gland proteins to influence whether a female becomes a blood sucking vampire and egg producing machine OR whether she stores the sperm and goes into reproductive arrest. The seminar was very well-received and Megan got to spend a lot of time visiting with the outstanding scientists at UK’s Entomology Program, including her good friend and former lab-mate Nick Teets.
Undergraduate researchers Victoria Colin and Vivian Chang presented their work in the Meuti lab at the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences annual undergraduate research forum today.
Victoria dazzled her judges with her hard-won data demonstrating that antioxidant genes are more abundant in the spermathecae of overwintering female mosquitoes. As these receptacles house and protect sperm while the females survive 3-6 months of winter, her findings suggest that these genes might be essential for keeping the sperm alive and healthy.
Vivian similarly impressed audiences with her results that demonstrate that one important circadian clock gene cycles in the brains of nondiapausing mosquitoes and is upregulated but does not cycle in the brains of overwintering ladies. As this gene is a transcription factor that regulates the abundance of other important genes and proteins her findings represent a critical step forward to trying to figure out how the circadian clock might help mosquitoes measure daylength and figure out what time of year it is.
This was the first time that either of them had presented their research and both did an outstanding job! 🙂