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Characterization of gene expression in Malpighian tubules of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus

Research Scholar

Carlos Josué Esquivel Palma, OARDC - Department of Entomology (Guatemala)
Peter M. Piermarini, Faculty Mentor


Carlos J. Esquivel Palma was born in Jutiapa, Guatemala. In 2011, he both graduated summa cum laude with his bachelor's degree in agricultural science and production from Zamorano University, Honduras, and completed an internship at Holit Kibbutz, Israel. He is member of the Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture and is serving as president of the Ohio sub-chapter of the Zamorano Alumni Association. Carlos is currently employed in the Department of Entomology at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio, conducting research in the laboratory of Peter M. Piermarini on the molecular physiology of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus.

What is the issue or problem addressed in your research?

The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is an invasive species in the United States, and can transmit viruses that cause dengue and yellow fever to humans. The goal of my research is to elucidate which genes are expressed in the renal (Malpighian) tubules of this species. Malpighian tubules play important roles in female mosquitoes by excreting the excess salts and water that are ingested during a blood meal. Using next-generation sequencing (RNA-Seq), I will determine which critical genes are expressed in Malpighian tubules to facilitate the development of new insecticides that target the excretory functions of mosquitoes.

What methodology did you use in your research?

I primarily use molecular-biology methodology to conduct my research. This involves the extraction and isolation of RNA from isolated mosquito tissues and the generation of cDNA libraries for RNA-Seq. Core facilities on the Wooster and Columbus campuses are used to generate and analyze the next generation data.

What are the purpose/rationale and implications of your research?

The results of this research will provide a gene-expression ‘atlas' (i.e., transcriptome) for Malpighian tubules of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus. Analysis of this data will help in the identification key genes that play important roles in Malpighian tubules function. This information will be used to help devise the development of new insecticides that target the products of these genes and decrease the cases of dengue and yellow fever caused for this mosquito.