Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr.Fernando Noriega

Abstract

Semiconductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots (QDs), have been used in studies involving mice and human tissues, but never before in research on insects. We used QDs to study the distribution of two neuropeptides in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector of both dengue and yellow fever. These neuropeptides play a significant role in the production of juvenile hormone, a hormone that controls biting behavior, metamorphosis, and reproduction throughout the life of the mosquito. The two neuropeptides allatostatin-C (AS-C) and allatotropin (AT) function as inhibitory (AS-C) and stimulatory (AT) regulators of juvenile hormone synthesis in the corpus allatum gland. In other insects, they also affect heart rate, gut movement, and nutrient uptake. Conjugating these neuropeptides to quantum dots via a streptavidinlbiotin link, we were able to expose the mosquito corpus allatum and abdomen to allatostatin-C and allatotropin and then to visualize their distribution under UV light using confocal and compound light microscopy. Histological sections of the whole mosquito, incubations of tissues with conjugates (in vitro), and microinjections of conjugates into the mosquito (in vivo) were performed. The results showed that quantum dots can be used to detect neuropeptide distribution in the mosquito. The more we understand about these neuropeptides and juvenile hormone, the more we can contribute to stopping the spread of infectious diseases, such as dengue and yellow fever.

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