November, 2020; Ammonium Transporter in sperm of mosquito affects fertility

In a recent publication in PNAS, PhD Candidate Andrea Durant demonstrated that an ammonium transporter, AeAmt1 is expressed in sperm and is important for sperm survival and male fertility. [Article]

Summary: A group of related specialized channels that transport ammonia are found in all domains of life including plants, bacteria, and animals. Plants use these ammonia channels to take up ammonia that they need from the soil, but in animals, ammonia is toxic if it accumulates. Animals produce ammonia as a by-product of protein digestion and excrete it either as-is or after converting it to less toxic forms, such as urea or uric acid. The ammonia channels in animals are used to shuttle ammonia out of cells and tissues for excretion.  In this study, we planned to examine and understand the role that an ammonia channel (Aedes aegypti Ammonium Transporter protein 1, AeAmt1) plays during digestion of a protein-rich blood meal in mosquitoes that spread the diseases Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika. We expected to find high AeAmt1 expression in digestive and excretory organs, important sites for protein digestion, and ammonia excretion. To our surprise, we found AeAmt1 most highly present in an organ called spermatheca in female mosquitoes (and many other species of insects). The spermathecae are organs where sperm is stored within the female mosquito after mating with a male mosquito and before egg fertilization. This finding then led us to examine the male mosquitoes, where we found that AeAmt1 is found within the sperm, specifically. Our further studies demonstrated that AeAmt1 is essential for sperm survival and male fertility in these mosquitoes. With this knowledge, AeAmt1 may be exploited to control populations of these disease-spreading mosquitoes. Perhaps more importantly, we have discovered a new role for ammonia channels in mosquitoes in the context of reproduction.   

June 21, 2018

Congratulations to Lidiya Misyura on her Masters degree. Lidiya’s thesis will be conferred with high distinction and nominated for the yearly thesis prize. Best wishes to Lidiya on her next endeavour at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Master of Management of Innovation and her future goals.

June 13, 2018

Congratulations to Gil Yerushalmi for defending his MSc thesis which is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. The examination committee recommended awarding Gil’s MSc with high distinction with a nomination for the yearly thesis prize. Best Wishes to Gil as he embarks on his next challenge, surviving a trip to southeast Asia and then Med School at U of T.

April 11, 2018

Congratulations to the talented people in the lab:

Congratulations to Andrea Durant who was offered an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Congratulations to Lidiya Misyura who was offered an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, an NSERC Post Graduate Scholarships -Doctoral Program, and a position in the Master of Management of Innovation Program at UTM!! A collection of exceptional achievements!

Congratulations to Fargol Nowghani who was offered an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s Program.

March 21, 2018

Fargol Nowghani presented her recent work on the effects of salt pollution on mayfly larval physiology at the 2nd Biennial Mayfly Symposium in the Best in Science Symposium series organized and funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Thank you Trudy Watson Leung for organizing a great day of mayfly research.

May 20, 2017

Congratulations to Heath MacMillan for being awarded the President’s Prize and Andrea Durant for being awarded the Holeton award at this years annual Canadian Society of Zoologists meeting in Winnipeg.

Congratulations to Gil Yerushalmi for being awarded an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship and being offered an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

May 5, 2017

The lab recently returned from the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting in Chicago, Illinois where Andrea Durant was awarded 2nd place prize in the Scholander competition for her work on ammonia excretion in larval mosquitoes; Gil Yerushalmi competed in the Scholander competition for his work on cold tolerance physiology in fruit flies; and Lidiya Misyura was selected to deliver an oral presentation in the “Trainee driven research” special symposium.

Scholander 2017 Awardees

December 5, 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Sima Jonusaite for her PhD degree. Sima’s thesis will be conferred with high distinction and she will be nominated for the dissertation prize at York. Sima is now set to join the laboratory of Dr. Aylin Rodan at the University of Utah for a Postdoctoral position.

October 3, 2016

The lab just returned from a successful and inspiring International Congress of Entomology 2016, Orlando, Florida. Peter Agre gave a sensational, humble and inspiring talk! Andrea presented her PhD work on Rh50 proteins in mosquitoes, Sima presented her septate junction work, Gil and Lidiya presented their undergraduate research and Andrew presented some preliminary work on effects of high environmental ammonia on larval mosquitoes.

September 13, 2016

Congratulations to Gil Yerushalmi for his first publication: “Chronic dietary salt stress mitigates hyperkalemia and facilitates chill coma recovery in Drosophila melanogaster” in the Journal of Insect Physiology. This was Gil’s undergraduate thesis research. Congratulations to Hina Akhter for publication of her aquaporin MSc research in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A and to Lidiya Misyura who co-authored both of these papers.. two papers in a day from her work as an undergraduate!

June 16, 2016

Thanks to Gil, Lidiya, Andrea, Sima and Heath for excellent presentations of their research at the annual Insect Biotech Conference. Congratulations to Sima Jonusaite for being awarded 2nd prize for best Long talks at the conference.

May 30, 2016

Congratulations to Melika Zadeh Tahmasebi for publication of her undergraduate honours thesis, and to Phuong Bui for a second publication from our lab. Their work has shed light on how larval chironomid Malpighian tubule function is affected by salinity and will appear in Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology.

July 1, 2015

Sima Jonusaite and Andrew presented in the symposium titled “Osmoregulation: From magnesium to mosquitoes: A tribute to Klaus W. Beyenbach” organized by Peter Piermarini and Edward Blumenthal at the Society for Experimental Biology annual meeting, Prague, Czech Republic.

October 15, 2014

Just returned from the APS Intersociety Meeting in San Diego. Thanks Marjorie for giving us the tour of USD, looking forward to continuing to work with you. It was great to meet Peter, Ed and Patricia and to speak with Julian.

September 6, 2012

Welcome Hina to the lab. As a Masters Candidate, Hina will examine changes in ion and water transporter expression levels in larval mosquitoes. Also today, Adrian embarks on his Masters where he will look at ammonia transporters in larval mosquitoes.