Anyway, my point is that he has a paper in PNAS this week that I found really interesting, but you'll have to forgive me if there are any physiological inaccuracies in this post. I claim responsibility for anything that's wrong.
|Aedes aegypti. Credit: Flickr user Sanofi Pasteur|
Obviously mosquitoes are not dying out because they are heat stressed and can't reproduce (wouldn't that be great?), so how are they getting around this problem? Heat shock proteins! Heat shock proteins can aid as enzymatic "chaperones", making sure that the enzyme proteins stay folded in the proper conformation during times of physiological stress (not just heat but also extreme cold, lack of oxygen, infection, or exposure to toxins, among other things). Enzymes are a key player in digestion; they aid in the breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and the absorption of certain nutrients, so the mosquitoes definitely want to conserve their function right after taking a meal.
While heat shock proteins are not preferentially expressed in the ovaries after a hot blood meal, the mosquitoes prevented from expressing HSP70 also made fewer eggs than control mosquitoes, which provides further evidence that the delay of protein digestion and nutrient absorption is interfering with egg production. Since mosquitoes are vectors for many human diseases, research like this can be used towards initiatives to potentially limit the fecundity of mosquitoes (i.e. how rapidly they reproduce) and reduce human infection with diseases like yellow fever, malaria, and dengue fever.
Benoit, J., Lopez-Martinez, G., Patrick, K., Phillips, Z., Krause, T., & Denlinger, D. (2011). Drinking a hot blood meal elicits a protective heat shock response in mosquitoes Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1105195108