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  • SARS-CoV-2 Specific Nanobodies Neutralize Different Variants of Concern and Reduce Virus Load in the Brain of h-ACE2 Transgenic Mice
    Pavan, María Florencia; Bok, Marina; Betanzos San Juan, Rafael; Malito, Juan Pablo; Marcoppido, Gisela Ariana; Franco, Diego Rafael; Militelo, Daniela Ayelen; Schammas, Juan Manuel; Bari, Sara Elizabeth; Stone, William; López, Krisangel; Porier, Danielle LaBrie; Muller, John Anthony; Auguste, Albert Jonathan; Yuan, Lijuan; Wigdorovitz, Andrés; Parreño, Viviana Gladys; Ibañez, Lorena Itat (MDPI, 2024-01-25)
    Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant need to develop antivirals and vaccines to combat the disease. In this work, we developed llama-derived nanobodies (Nbs) directed against the receptor binding domain (RBD) and other domains of the Spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2. Most of the Nbs with neutralizing properties were directed to RBD and were able to block S-2P/ACE2 interaction. Three neutralizing Nbs recognized the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the S-2P protein. Intranasal administration of Nbs induced protection ranging from 40% to 80% after challenge with the WA1/2020 strain in k18-hACE2 transgenic mice. Interestingly, protection was associated with a significant reduction in virus replication in nasal turbinates and a reduction in virus load in the brain. Employing pseudovirus neutralization assays, we identified Nbs with neutralizing capacity against the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants, including a Nb capable of neutralizing all variants tested. Furthermore, cocktails of different Nbs performed better than individual Nbs at neutralizing two Omicron variants (B.1.529 and BA.2). Altogether, the data suggest the potential of SARS-CoV-2 specific Nbs for intranasal treatment of COVID-19 encephalitis.
  • The chromosome-scale genome assembly for the West Nile vector Culex quinquefasciatus uncovers patterns of genome evolution in mosquitoes
    Ryazansky, Sergei S.; Chen, Chujia; Potters, Mark; Naumenko, Anastasia N.; Lukyanchikova, Varvara; Masri, Reem A.; Brusentsov, Ilya I.; Karagodin, Dmitriy A.; Yurchenko, Andrey A.; dos Anjos, Vitor L.; Haba, Yuki; Rose, Noah H.; Hoffman, Jinna; Guo, Rong; Menna, Theresa; Kelley, Melissa; Ferrill, Emily; Schultz, Karen E.; Qi, Yumin; Sharma, Atashi; Deschamps, Stéphane; Llaca, Victor; Mao, Chunhong; Murphy, Terence D.; Baricheva, Elina M.; Emrich, Scott; Fritz, Megan L.; Benoit, Joshua B.; Sharakhov, Igor V.; McBride, Carolyn S.; Tu, Zhijian; Sharakhova, Maria V. (2024-01-25)
    Background: Understanding genome organization and evolution is important for species involved in transmission of human diseases, such as mosquitoes. Anophelinae and Culicinae subfamilies of mosquitoes show striking differences in genome sizes, sex chromosome arrangements, behavior, and ability to transmit pathogens. However, the genomic basis of these differences is not fully understood. Methods: In this study, we used a combination of advanced genome technologies such as Oxford Nanopore Technology sequencing, Hi-C scaffolding, Bionano, and cytogenetic mapping to develop an improved chromosome-scale genome assembly for the West Nile vector Culex quinquefasciatus. Results: We then used this assembly to annotate odorant receptors, odorant binding proteins, and transposable elements. A genomic region containing male-specific sequences on chromosome 1 and a polymorphic inversion on chromosome 3 were identified in the Cx. quinquefasciatus genome. In addition, the genome of Cx. quinquefasciatus was compared with the genomes of other mosquitoes such as malaria vectors An. coluzzi and An. albimanus, and the vector of arboviruses Ae. aegypti. Our work confirms significant expansion of the two chemosensory gene families in Cx. quinquefasciatus, as well as a significant increase and relocation of the transposable elements in both Cx. quinquefasciatus and Ae. aegypti relative to the Anophelines. Phylogenetic analysis clarifies the divergence time between the mosquito species. Our study provides new insights into chromosomal evolution in mosquitoes and finds that the X chromosome of Anophelinae and the sex-determining chromosome 1 of Culicinae have a significantly higher rate of evolution than autosomes. Conclusion: The improved Cx. quinquefasciatus genome assembly uncovered new details of mosquito genome evolution and has the potential to speed up the development of novel vector control strategies.
  • The millipede family Striariidae Bollman, 1893. VIII. Three new genera and four new species of minute millipedes from Oregon and Washington, USA (Diplopoda, Chordeumatida, Striarioidea)
    Shear, William A.; Marek, Paul E. (Magnolia Press, 2023-04-14)
    We describe three new genera and four new species of small, litter-dwelling millipedes from the states of Oregon and Washington, USA: Miniaria ramifera, n. gen., n. sp., Miniaria richarti, n. gen., n. sp., Tigraria oregonensis, n. gen., n. sp., and Kingaria prattensis, n. gen., n. sp. Some of the unusual characters of these species are discussed, including a new type of sensory array on the third tarsus of males and a newly observed mandibular gland.
  • The identity of Neocnemodon calcarata (Loew) (Diptera: Syrphidae), a specialized flower fly predator of woolly apple aphid
    Bergh, J. Christopher; Marek, Paul E.; Short, Brent D.; Skevington, Jeffrey H.; Thompson, F. Christian (2023-03-05)
    The names and identities of the specialized flower fly predators of the Woolly Apple Aphid, Eriosoma lanigerum (Hausmann, 1802) are fixed. These predators, Neocnemodon calcarata (Loew, 1866) and Neocnemodon vitripennis (Meigen, 1822), are important biological control agents as they prey on both arboreal and root colonies of the aphid. A lectotype is designated for Pipiza calcarata Loew, 1866, and type notes of N. calcarata and N. vitripennis are provided.
  • Expression of anti-chikungunya single-domain antibodies in transgenic Aedes aegypti reduces vector competence for chikungunya virus and Mayaro virus
    Webb, Emily M.; Compton, Austin; Rai, Pallavi; Chuong, Christina; Paulson, Sally L.; Tu, Zhijian; Weger-Lucarelli, James (Frontiers, 2023-06-12)
    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Mayaro virus (MAYV) are closely related alphaviruses that cause acute febrile illness accompanied by an incapacitating polyarthralgia that can persist for years following initial infection. In conjunction with sporadic outbreaks throughout the sub-tropical regions of the Americas, increased global travel to CHIKV- and MAYV-endemic areas has resulted in imported cases of MAYV, as well as imported cases and autochthonous transmission of CHIKV, within the United States and Europe. With increasing prevalence of CHIKV worldwide and MAYV throughout the Americas within the last decade, a heavy focus has been placed on control and prevention programs. To date, the most effective means of controlling the spread of these viruses is through mosquito control programs. However, current programs have limitations in their effectiveness; therefore, novel approaches are necessary to control the spread of these crippling pathogens and lessen their disease burden. We have previously identified and characterized an anti-CHIKV single-domain antibody (sdAb) that potently neutralizes several alphaviruses including Ross River virus and Mayaro virus. Given the close antigenic relationship between MAYV and CHIKV, we formulated a single defense strategy to combat both emerging arboviruses: we generated transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that express two camelid-derived anti-CHIKV sdAbs. Following an infectious bloodmeal, we observed significant reduction in CHIKV and MAYV replication and transmission potential in sdAb-expressing transgenic compared to wild-type mosquitoes; thus, this strategy provides a novel approach to controlling and preventing outbreaks of these pathogens that reduce quality of life throughout the tropical regions of the world.
  • Testing Novel Seed Treatments and Soil-Applied Insecticides Against Wireworm in Corn, 2023
    Bekelja, Kyle; Malone, Sean (Oxford University Press, 2024-01)
  • A Novel Insecticide, Isocycloseram, Shows Promise as an Alternative to Chlorpyrifos Against a Direct Pest of Peanut
    Bekelja, Kyle; Malone, Sean; Mascarenhas, Victor; Taylor, Sally V. (2024-01)
    Larvae of the southern corn rootworm (SCR) Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi Barber (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) are primary pests of peanut in the Virginia-Carolina region of the United States, and are relatively sporadic pests in southern states such as Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Peanuts have strict quality standards which, when they are not met, crop value is diminished by more than 65%. Management of direct pests like SCR is therefore crucial to maintaining the economic viability of the crop. The soil-dwelling nature of SCR larvae complicates management due to difficulties associated with monitoring and predicting infestations. Non-chemical management options are limited in this system; preventative insecticide applications are the most reliable management strategy for at-risk fields. Chlorpyrifos was the standard product for larval SCR management in peanut until its registration was revoked in 2022, leaving no effective chemical management option for larvae. We tested a novel insecticide, isocycloseram, for its ability to reduce pod scarring, pod penetration, and non-SCR pod damage in field studies conducted in Suffolk, Virginia in 2020 – 2022. Overall injury was low in 2020 and 2022, and in 2022 there was not a significant effect of treatment. In 2021, two simulated chemigation applications of isocycloseram in July significantly reduced pod scarring and overall pod injury relative to chlorpyrifos and the untreated control. Our results suggest that isocycloseram may become an effective option for managing SCR in peanut, although more work is needed to understand the mechanisms by which it is effective as a soil-applied insecticide.
  • Exploring the immunogenicity of an insect-specific virus vectored Zika vaccine candidate
    Tanelus, Manette; López, Krisangel; Smith, Shaan; Muller, John A.; Porier, Danielle L.; Auguste, Dawn I.; Stone, William B.; Paulson, Sally L.; Auguste, Albert J. (Springer, 2023-12-01)
    Zika virus (ZIKV) is an important re-emerging flavivirus that presents a significant threat to human health worldwide. Despite its importance, no vaccines are approved for use in humans. Insect-specific flaviviruses (ISFVs) have recently garnered attention as an antigen presentation platform for vaccine development and diagnostic applications. Here, we further explore the safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of a chimeric ISFV-Zika vaccine candidate, designated Aripo-Zika (ARPV/ZIKV). Our results show a near-linear relationship between increased dose and immunogenicity, with 1011 genome copies (i.e., 108 focus forming units) being the minimum dose required for protection from ZIKV-induced morbidity and mortality in mice. Including boosters did not significantly increase the short-term efficacy of ARPV/ZIKV-vaccinated mice. We also show that weanling mice derived from ARPV/ZIKV-vaccinated dams were completely protected from ZIKV-induced morbidity and mortality upon challenge, suggesting efficient transfer of maternally-derived protective antibodies. Finally, in vitro coinfection studies of ZIKV with Aripo virus (ARPV) and ARPV/ZIKV in African green monkey kidney cells (i.e., Vero-76) showed that ARPV and ARPV/ZIKV remain incapable of replication in vertebrate cells, despite the presence of active ZIKV replication. Altogether, our data continue to support ISFV-based vaccines, and specifically the ARPV backbone is a safe, immunogenic and effective vaccine strategy for flaviviruses.
  • Jasmonic and salicylic induced defensive response in wine grapes against Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae)
    Hussein, Barkat; War, Abdul Rasheed; Pfeiffer, Douglas G. (Cell Press, 2023-06)
    To better understand the elicitor induced defense in wine grapes against Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura), two varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, were sprayed with jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid (SA). Total phenols, total flavonoids, total tannins and total soluble sugars were quantified. Oviposition preference by D. suzukii in response to JA and SA applications were also studied. Behavioral response of D. suzukii to various sugars was recorded. The effect of flavonoids (gallic acid, catechin, quercetin at 100 and 500 ppm) on mortality of D. suzukii was also studied in CAFE assay. Our results showed that JA and SA application significantly affected phenol, flavonoid and tannin contents of grapes. Reduced injury was observed in treated plants; this reduction was more pronounced in Chardonnay than Pinot Noir. The number of eggs laid by D. suzukii females was lower in JA and SA-treated plants; this reduction was more pronounced under no-choice conditions than under choice conditions. In prandial behavior, sucrose solution (5%), glucose solution (5%), fructose solution (5%), sucrose (5%) + yeast (5%) solutions and yeast solutions (5%) showed higher attraction of D. suzukii females compared to control treatments. Among flavonoids, catechin (100 ppm) showed higher mortality of D. suzukii than rest of the treatments. The results of this study can be used for developing management strategies of D. suzukii in wine grapes and related crops.
  • Discovery of facultative parthenogenesis in a new world crocodile
    Booth, Warren; Levine, Brenna A.; Corush, Joel B.; Davis, Mark A.; Dwyer, Quetzal; De Plecker, Roel; Schuett, Gordon W. (Royal Society, 2023-06-07)
    Over the past two decades, there has been an astounding growth in the documentation of vertebrate facultative parthenogenesis (FP). This unusual reproductive mode has been documented in birds, non-avian reptiles - specifically lizards and snakes - and elasmobranch fishes. Part of this growth among vertebrate taxa is attributable to awareness of the phenomenon itself and advances in molecular genetics/genomics and bioinformatics, and as such our understanding has developed considerably. Nonetheless, questions remain as to its occurrence outside of these vertebrate lineages, most notably in Chelonia (turtles) and Crocodylia (crocodiles, alligators and gharials). The latter group is particularly interesting because unlike all previously documented cases of FP in vertebrates, crocodilians lack sex chromosomes and sex determination is controlled by temperature. Here, using whole-genome sequencing data, we provide, to our knowledge, the first evidence of FP in a crocodilian, the American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus. The data support terminal fusion automixis as the reproductive mechanism; a finding which suggests a common evolutionary origin of FP across reptiles, crocodilians and birds. With FP now documented in the two main branches of extant archosaurs, this discovery offers tantalizing insights into the possible reproductive capabilities of the extinct archosaurian relatives of crocodilians and birds, notably members of Pterosauria and Dinosauria.
  • The role of Culex territans mosquitoes in the transmission of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to amphibian hosts
    Reinhold, Joanna M.; Halbert, Ella; Roark, Megan; Smith, Sierra N.; Stroh, Katherine M.; Siler, Cameron D.; McLeod, David S.; Lahondère, Chloé (2023-11-16)
    Background Mosquitoes are the deadliest organisms in the world, killing an estimated 750,000 people per year due to the pathogens they can transmit. Mosquitoes also pose a major threat to other vertebrate animals. Culex territans is a mosquito species found in temperate zones worldwide that feeds almost exclusively on amphibians and can transmit parasites; however, little is known about its ability to transmit other pathogens, including fungi. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a topical pathogenic fungus that spreads through contact. With amphibian populations around the world experiencing mass die-offs and extinctions due to this pathogen, it is critical to study all potential modes of transmission. Because Cx. territans mosquitoes are in contact with their hosts for long periods of time while blood-feeding, we hypothesize that they can transmit and pick up Bd. Methods In this study, we first assessed Cx. territans ability to transfer the fungus from an infected surface to a clean one under laboratory conditions. We also conducted a surveillance study of Bd infections in frogs and mosquitoes in the field (Mountain Lake Biological station, VA, USA). In parallel, we determined Cx. territans host preference via blood meal analysis of field caught mosquitoes. Results We found that this mosquito species can carry the fungus to an uninfected surface, implying that they may have the ability to transmit Bd to their amphibian hosts. We also found that Cx. territans feed primarily on green frogs (Rana clamitans) and bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and that the prevalence of Bd within the frog population at our field site varied between years. Conclusions This study provides critical insights into understanding the role of amphibian-biting mosquitoes in transmitting pathogens, which can be applied to disease ecology of susceptible amphibian populations worldwide.
  • La Crosse Virus Circulation in Virginia, Assessed via Serosurveillance in Wildlife Species
    Faw, Lindsey R.; Riley, Jennifer; Eastwood, Gillian (MDPI, 2023-06-30)
    Mosquito-borne La Crosse virus (LACV; family: Peribunyaviridae) is the leading cause of pediatric arboviral encephalitis in the United States, with clinical cases generally centered in the Midwest and Appalachian regions. Incidence of LACV cases in Appalachian states has increased, such that the region currently represents the majority of reported LACV cases in the USA. The amount of reported LACV cases from Virginia, however, is minimal compared to neighboring states such as North Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee, and non-Appalachian regions of Virginia are understudied. Here we examine the hypothesis that LACV is circulating widely in Virginia, despite a low clinical case report rate, and that the virus is circulating in areas not associated with LACV disease. In this study, we screened local mammalian wildlife in northwestern counties of Virginia using passive surveillance via patients submitted to wildlife rehabilitation centers. Blood sera (527 samples; 9 species, 8 genera) collected between October 2019 and December 2022 were screened for neutralizing antibodies against LACV, indicating prior exposure to the virus. We found an overall LACV seroprevalence of 1.90% among all wild mammals examined and reveal evidence of LACV exposure in several wild species not generally associated with LACV, including eastern cottontails and red foxes, along with established reservoirs, eastern gray squirrels, although there was no serological evidence in chipmunks. These data indicate the circulation of LACV in Virginia outside of Appalachian counties, however, at a lower rate than reported for endemic areas within the state and in other states.
  • Extended Sentinel Monitoring of Helicoverpa zea Resistance to Cry and Vip3Aa Toxins in Bt Sweet Corn: Assessing Changes in Phenotypic and Allele Frequencies of Resistance
    Dively, Galen P.; Kuhar, Tom P.; Taylor, Sally V.; Doughty, Helene; Holmstrom, Kristian; Gilrein, Daniel O.; Nault, Brian A.; Ingerson-Mahar, Joseph; Huseth, Anders; Reisig, Dominic; Fleischer, Shelby; Owens, David; Tilmon, Kelley; Reay-Jones, Francis; Porter, Pat; Smith, Jocelyn; Saguez, Julien; Wells, Jason; Congdon, Caitlin; Byker, Holly; Jensen, Bryan; DiFonzo, Chris; Hutchison, William D.; Burkness, Eric; Wright, Robert; Crossley, Michael; Darby, Heather; Bilbo, Tom; Seiter, Nicholas; Krupke, Christian; Abel, Craig; Coates, Brad S.; McManus, Bradley; Fuller, Billy; Bradshaw, Jeffrey; Peterson, Julie A.; Buntin, David; Paula-Moraes, Silvana; Kesheimer, Katelyn; Crow, Whitney; Gore, Jeffrey; Huang, Fangneng; Ludwick, Dalton C.; Raudenbush, Amy; Jimenez, Sebastian; Carrière, Yves; Elkner, Timothy; Hamby, Kelly (MDPI, 2023-06-25)
    Transgenic corn and cotton that produce Cry and Vip3Aa toxins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are widely planted in the United States to control lepidopteran pests. The sustainability of these Bt crops is threatened because the corn earworm/bollworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), is evolving a resistance to these toxins. Using Bt sweet corn as a sentinel plant to monitor the evolution of resistance, collaborators established 146 trials in twenty-five states and five Canadian provinces during 2020–2022. The study evaluated overall changes in the phenotypic frequency of resistance (the ratio of larval densities in Bt ears relative to densities in non-Bt ears) in H. zea populations and the range of resistance allele frequencies for Cry1Ab and Vip3Aa. The results revealed a widespread resistance to Cry1Ab, Cry2Ab2, and Cry1A.105 Cry toxins, with higher numbers of larvae surviving in Bt ears than in non-Bt ears at many trial locations. Depending on assumptions about the inheritance of resistance, allele frequencies for Cry1Ab ranged from 0.465 (dominant resistance) to 0.995 (recessive resistance). Although Vip3Aa provided high control efficacy against H. zea, the results show a notable increase in ear damage and a number of surviving older larvae, particularly at southern locations. Assuming recessive resistance, the estimated resistance allele frequencies for Vip3Aa ranged from 0.115 in the Gulf states to 0.032 at more northern locations. These findings indicate that better resistance management practices are urgently needed to sustain efficacy the of corn and cotton that produce Vip3Aa.
  • A new species of Illacme from southern California (Siphonophorida, Siphonorhinidae)
    Marek, Paul E.; Hall, Charity L.; Lee, Cedric; Bailey, James; Berger, Matt C.; Kasson, Matt T.; Shear, William (Pensoft, 2023-06)
    The millipede fauna inhabiting deep soil are poorly known. They are small and threadlike, slow moving, lacking pigmentation, and rarely encountered due to their obscure underground way of life. One family, the Siphonorhinidae, encompasses four genera and 12 species in a fragmentary distribution in California, southern Africa, Madagascar, the Malay Archipelago, and Indo-Burma. The family is represented in the Western Hemisphere by a single genus, Illacme Cook & Loomis, 1928 from California, with its closest known relative, Nematozonium filum Verhoeff, 1939, from southern Africa. A new species of this family is documented from soil microhabitats in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Illacme socal Marek & Shear, sp. nov. Based on this discovery and the recent documentation of other endogean millipede species, we show that these grossly understudied subterranean fauna represent the next frontier of discovery. However, they are threatened by encroaching human settlement and habitat loss, and conservation of this species and other subterranean fauna is of high importance.
  • Effects of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Control Using Imidacloprid on Leaf-Level Physiology of Eastern Hemlock
    McDonald, Kelly M.; Seiler, John R.; Wang, Bingxue; Salom, Scott M.; Rhea, Rusty J. (MDPI, 2023-06-14)
    Widespread mortality of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis [L.] Carr.) has been occurring due to the introduction of hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand) (HWA), threatening millions of hectares of hemlock-dominated forests in the eastern United States. HWA feeds at the base of needles and removes stored carbohydrates, which can impact leaf-level physiology, contributing to the decline of the tree. However, these physiological mechanisms in HWA-infested hemlocks are still not clearly understood. We investigated hemlock leaf physiology year-round at three forested sites with various degrees of infestation. At each site, half the trees were treated with imidacloprid (Merit® 2 F, Bayer, Kansas City, MO, USA) while the rest were left untreated. Imidacloprid is widely used to control HWA but can itself have phytotoxic effects. After one growing season, there was an increase in photosynthetic rates (7.5%, p = 0.0163) and stomatal conductance (7.1%, p = 0.0163) across sites in the trees treated with imidacloprid. After two years, the imidacloprid treatment also increased bud break from 22.5% to 88.7% at Fishburn (the most severely impacted site) and from 22.7% to 58.9% at Mountain Lake (the least impacted site), and slightly increased chlorophyll fluorescence for treated trees at Fishburn. Chemical treatment also slightly increased water use efficiency at Mountain Lake. These results suggest that HWA is causing tree mortality largely through a reduction in leaf area caused by decreasing bud break and also by a slight, but significant, reduction in leaf-level photosynthesis and stomatal conductance.
  • The influence of SARS-CoV-2 infection on expression of drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters in a hACE2 murine model
    Deshpande, Kiran; Lange, Keith R.; Stone, William B.; Yohn, Christine; Schlesinger, Naomi; Kagan, Leonid; Auguste, Albert J.; Firestein, Bonnie L.; Brunetti, Luigi (Wiley, 2023-06)
    Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and the resulting Coronavirus disease 2019 emerged in late 2019 and is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. A hallmark of severe COVID-19 is exaggerated systemic inflammation, regarded as a "cytokine storm," which contributes to the damage of various organs, primarily the lungs. The inflammation associated with some viral illnesses is known to alter the expression of drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters. These alterations can lead to modifications in drug exposure and the processing of various endogenous compounds. Here, we provide evidence to support changes in the mitochondrial ribonucleic acid expression of a subset of drug transporters (84 transporters) in the liver, kidneys, and lungs and metabolizing enzymes (84 enzymes) in the liver in a humanized angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor mouse model. Specifically, three drug transporters (Abca3, Slc7a8, Tap1) and the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 were upregulated in the lungs of SARS-CoV-2 infected mice. We also found significant downregulation of drug transporters responsible for the movement of xenobiotics in the liver and kidney. Additionally, expression of cytochrome P-450 2f2 which is known to metabolize some pulmonary toxicants, was significantly decreased in the liver of infected mice. The significance of these findings requires further exploration. Our results suggest that further research should emphasize altered drug disposition when investigating therapeutic compounds, whether re-purposed or new chemical entities, in other animal models and ultimately in individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, the influence and impact of these changes on the processing of endogenous compounds also require further investigation.
  • Strong interactions between highly dynamic lamina-associated domains and the nuclear envelope stabilize the 3D architecture of Drosophila interphase chromatin
    Tolokh, Igor S.; Kinney, Nicholas A.; Sharakhov, Igor V.; Onufriev, Alexey V. (2023-05-30)
    Background Interactions among topologically associating domains (TADs), and between the nuclear envelope (NE) and lamina-associated domains (LADs) are expected to shape various aspects of three-dimensional (3D) chromatin structure and dynamics; however, relevant genome-wide experiments that may provide statistically significant conclusions remain difficult. Results We have developed a coarse-grained dynamical model of D. melanogaster nuclei at TAD resolution that explicitly accounts for four distinct epigenetic classes of TADs and LAD–NE interactions. The model is parameterized to reproduce the experimental Hi-C map of the wild type (WT) nuclei; it describes time evolution of the chromatin over the G1 phase of the interphase. The simulations include an ensemble of nuclei, corresponding to the experimentally observed set of several possible mutual arrangements of chromosomal arms. The model is validated against multiple structural features of chromatin from several different experiments not used in model development. Predicted positioning of all LADs at the NE is highly dynamic—the same LAD can attach, detach and move far away from the NE multiple times during interphase. The probabilities of LADs to be in contact with the NE vary by an order of magnitude, despite all having the same affinity to the NE in the model. These probabilities are mostly determined by a highly variable local linear density of LADs along the genome, which also has the same strong effect on the predicted positioning of individual TADs -- higher probability of a TAD to be near NE is largely determined by a higher linear density of LADs surrounding this TAD. The distribution of LADs along the chromosome chains plays a notable role in maintaining a non-random average global structure of chromatin. Relatively high affinity of LADs to the NE in the WT nuclei substantially reduces sensitivity of the global radial chromatin distribution to variations in the strength of TAD–TAD interactions compared to the lamin depleted nuclei, where a small (0.5 kT) increase of cross-type TAD–TAD interactions doubles the chromatin density in the central nucleus region. Conclusions A dynamical model of the entire fruit fly genome makes multiple genome-wide predictions of biological interest. The distribution of LADs along the chromatin chains affects their probabilities to be in contact with the NE and radial positioning of highly mobile TADs, playing a notable role in creating a non-random average global structure of the chromatin. We conjecture that an important role of attractive LAD–NE interactions is to stabilize global chromatin structure against inevitable cell-to-cell variations in TAD–TAD interactions.
  • Effect of Plastic Mulch Colors on Anasa tristis (Hemiptera: Coreidae) Population Dynamics in Summer Squash, Cucurbita pepo (Cucurbitales: Cucurbitaceae)
    Boyle, Sean M.; Alford, Adam M.; McIntyre, Kelly C.; Weber, Donald C.; Kuhar, Thomas P. (Oxford University Press, 2022-06)
    The squash bug, Anasa tristis (De Geer), is a serious pest of cucurbit crops across the United States, especially within summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) systems. Using their piercing sucking mouthparts, squash bugs feed on both leaf tissue and fruits, often leading to leaf necrosis, marketable fruit loss, and even plant death. To date, the relationship between squash bug presence and plasticulture has not been adequately investigated. This 2-yr study evaluated the effects of white, black, and reflective plastic mulch colors on the occurrence of all squash bug life stages and marketable zucchini yield in Virginia. In both years, A. tristis adults and egg masses were more numerous on zucchini plants grown in white and reflective plastic mulch compared to bare ground plants. Greater nymphal densities and marketable fruit yield were observed in certain plastic mulch treatments versus the bare ground treatment, yet these differences were not consistent in both years. Contrary to the repellency effects reflective mulches have on other cucurbit insect pests, our research suggests that reflective and other plastic mulch colors can negatively impact squash bug management, especially in regions with high A. tristis pressure. Our study offers new insights for cucurbit growers to use when considering whether they should implement plasticulture in their growing systems.
  • Diverse landscapes but not wildflower plantings increase marketable crop yield
    McCullough, Christopher; Grab, Heather; Angelella, Gina; Karpanty, Sarah M.; Samtani, Jayesh; Olimpi, Elissa M.; O'Rourke, Megan E. (Elsevier, 2022-11)
    Biodiversity-friendly farming practices may create a win-win scenario for biodiversity and crop production by supporting ecosystem services to agriculture. On-farm wildflower plantings and conserving semi-natural habitat surrounding farms are two such practices that focus on the integration of non-crop components into production systems at the local and landscape scale, respectively. Here, we examine the impact of these practices on the regulating services of biological control and pollination, as well as the provisioning service of crop yield in four crops replicated across 22 farms in two US states. Wildflower plantings had no effect on pollination while their influence on pest control was both dependent on the landscape context and inconsistent across crops. In contrast, farms surrounded by higher amounts of semi-natural habitat had consistently higher marketable yields for all four crops. Our findings suggest a need to account for non-production values of wildflower plantings as they provide fewer direct production benefits than surrounding semi-natural habitats.
  • Soap application alters mosquito-host interactions
    VanderGiessen, Morgen; Tallon, Anaïs K.; Damico, Bryn; Lahondère, Chloé; Vinauger, Clément (Cell Press, 2023-05)
    To find nutrients, mosquitoes use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants and animal hosts. These resources overlap in their chemical composition, and an important layer of information resides in VOCs’ relative abundance in the headspace of each resource. In addition, a large majority of the human species regularly uses personal care products such as soaps and perfumes, which add plant-related VOCs to their olfactory signature. Using headspace sampling and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we quantified how human odor is modified by soap application. We showed that soaps alter mosquito host selection, with some soaps increasing the attractiveness of the host and some soaps reducing it. Analytical methods revealed the main chemicals associated with these changes. These results provide proof-of-concept that data on host-soap valences can be reverse-engineered to produce chemical blends for artificial baits or mosquito repellents, and evince the impact of personal care products on host selection processes.