Laboratory of Insect Physiology
We study the insect neuropeptides (mostly from the adipokinetic hormone family) and their role in important physiological and developmental processes in insect body. The study is focussed on the problems of metabolism, digestive enzymes and anti-stress reactions elicited by various stressors including the insecticides and pathogens. Further, our activities involve research of insect hormones, their analogues and other biologically active compounds affecting insect development and reproduction. Those studies are directed to the development of male accessory glands, their functions and secretory activities, their role in reproduction in haematophagous insects, haematophagous behaviour, autogeny and anautogeny. For this research we use a wide choice of classical and advanced physiological, biochemical and molecular biology methods. They include chromatographic techniques (HPLC and FPLC), electrophoretic methods, immunomethods (ELISA and Western blotting), metabolic and physiological methods (oxide consumption and carbon dioxide production), basic methods of molecular biology (RNAi, PCR, q-RT-PCR), microscopic techniques (electron and confocal microscope) and a number of various biochemical assays using spectrophotometric determinations (enzyme reactions, oxidative stress, determination of metabolites, etc.). As the main model insect species we use the firebug Pyrrhocoris apterus and fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and to a lesser extent also the migratory locust Locusta migratoria, American cockroach Periplaneta americana, honeybee Apis melifera and mosquitoes of the Culex pipiens complex.
Current research projects
Endocrine control of stress situations
The project deals with a study of the physiological processes in insect body, which are switched on by peptides from the adipokinetic hormone (AKH) family as an immediate reaction on stress situations. The study is focussed on mobilization of anti-oxidative stress reactions including their mode of action on biochemical level, and on role of AKH in defence reactions against pathogens as entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi, and the venom from a parasitic wasp Habrobracon hebetor. Further, the project involves also a study of AKH mechanisms, which stimulate the pathogens to intensification of their efficacy on the host organism.
PI: Dalibor Kodrík
Neurohormonal control of digestion
The aim of the project is to understand the mechanisms by which AKHs stimulate the food intake and activity of digestive enzymes. The project monitors activity of basic and less common insect digestive enzymes (amylases, lipases, proteases, polygalacturonases) in stressful situations and the effect of AKHs on them.
PI: Dalibor Kodrík, Konstantin Vinokurov
Study of reproduction and biodiversity of mosquitoes
The project is directed at a study of developmental and secretory activities of male accessory glands with an emphasis on elucidation of their role in the spermatophore formation, and in other reproductive processes. The project is also focussed on the study of influence of global warming on the biodiversity changes of bloodsucking insects (namely mosquitoes), and a spectrum of microbial pathogens, which are the causative agents of a number of diseases of human and domestic animals.
PI: Ivan Gelbič