Reproductive biology

Reproductive biology; genetic and evolutionary approaches to study reproductive traits important for vectorial capacity. Over the past few years, we have been exploring previously unknown hormonal signaling pathways that are relevant for the reproductive success of the mosquito vector. We have demonstrated that the steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E), produced by the male and transferred to the female during mating as part of a coagulated mating plug, has dramatic effects on female physiology and behavior. Sexual transfer of this hormone, an acquired trait in anopheline mosquitoes based on our evolutionary analyses, increases egg development after blood feeding, induces egg laying, helps fertility and triggers a long-lasting refractoriness to further copulation. We are currently characterizing the hormonal signaling pathways triggered by mating and boosted by blood feeding to study how the interplay between these two key reproductive processes determines female reproductive success in several mosquito species.