Laboratory of Insect Physiology

We investigate a humoral control of important physiological and biochemical processes in the insect body, such as anti-stress reactions induced by various stressors as insecticides, pathogens, and natural toxins, and which maintains metabolism homeostasis. Among the controlling factors, we focus on the function of adipokinetic hormones and biogenic amines. For this research we use a wide choice of classical and advanced physiological, biochemical and molecular biology methods. They include chromatographic techniques (HPLC), electrophoretic methods, immunomethods (ELISA and Western blotting), metabolic and physiological methods (oxide consumption and carbon dioxide production, monitoring of locomotion), 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, honeybee Apis mellifera and fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and to a lesser extent also the American cockroach Periplaneta americana and migratory locust Locusta migratoria.


Current research projects

Endocrine control of stress situations

The goal of the project is to better understand the physiological and biochemical processes that insects' bodies go through in response to stress. These processes are triggered by peptides from the adipokinetic hormone (AKH) family. The study focuses on the function of AKH in the defence response to pathogens like entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi, as well as against naturally occurring toxins like the venom of the honey bee Apis mellifera and the parasitic wasp Habrobracon hebetor. Additionally, the project involves examining the mechanisms by which AKHs encourage pathogens to intensify their negative effects on the host organism. The emphasis is placed (1) on the study of anti-oxidative stress reactions, including their biochemical mechanism of action, (2) on the analysis of ultrastructural changes in insect tissues (muscles) after the application of toxins, and (3) on the function of enzymes, nutrients, and other metabolites in stressful situations that disrupt the insect organism's homeostasis.

PI: Dalibor Kodrík

Stress physiology of honey bees

The project focuses on the physiological processes that occur in bees when defensive anti-stress responses are triggered following intoxication with synthetic or natural toxins. The project concentrates on the investigation of vibroacoustic signals, their artificial intelligence-based analysis, and the correlation between these signals and biochemical traits like the level of nutrients, the activity of digestive enzymes, the level of oxidative stress, the composition of bee venom components, the level of stress hormones, the amount of vitellogenin in the haemolymph, and the amount of biogenic amines in the body of bees. The project's goal is to understand the physiological and pathological phenomena that occur in the bee's body during stressful situations and, if necessary, to apply them in practical beekeeping.

PI: Dalibor Kodrík

Function of bee venom toxins

The project focuses on the individual components that make up bee venom, especially melittin and phospholipase A2, which are the most abundant elements of the venom and the main contributors to pain and allergic reactions brought on by bee stings. They have also demonstrated in vivo anti-bacterial, anti-tumour, and anti-inflammatory activity. The ratio of representation of individual components in the venom and environmental influences, such as exposure to toxic substances in the form of insecticides or stress brought on by the presence of predators or pathogens in the bee colony, are investigated using molecular methods (primarily RT-PCR). Additionally, it is being researched whether the bee organism can use the venom's components for its own defence during an infection immune response or as an anti-stress reaction when the organism's integrity is compromised.

PI: Markéta Hejníková


Biology Centre CAS
Institute of Entomology
Branišovská 1160/31
370 05 České Budějovice

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