Student NameValeriya Prytkova
Faculty Mentor NameDan Hahn
CollegeCollege of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Research InterestsProtein storage in the Caribbean fruit fly
Academic AwardsUniversity Scholars Program
Hobbies and InterestsPiano

Research Project

Does Protein Storage Regulate the Growth of Sexual Characteristics in a Model Pest Fly?

Whether it be the large antlers of male deer or the brightly colored feathers of some male birds, secondary sexual characters are important for males to secure mates and pass on their genes. Salivary glands are secondary sexual characters in the Caribfly that can also play a fundamental role in courtship and securing mates. Manipulation of these traits could improve male mating success, increasing the efficiency of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). SIT is an environmentally safe method of pest-control that sterilizes males and releases them to compete with wild females. If a female only mates with sterile males, she will not produce viable eggs, eliminating the next generation of pests without the use of chemical insecticides. Attractive males are critical for successful SIT programs. Understanding the growth of the salivary glands is useful because males with larger salivary glands likely attract more females. The role of protein stores in secondary sexual organ growth is unclear. The gene lsp2 allows Caribflies to store dietary protein. I will knock down lsp2 transcript abundance using RNAi, then measure the growth of the testes (a primary sexual organ) and the salivary glands to test whether protein stores promote secondary sexual organ growth.