Donini Lab

News & Events

May 14, 2021

Congratulations to recent graduates, Andrea Durant (PhD) and Elia Grieco Guardian (MSc) for obtaining their graduate degrees.

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.   

December 20, 2019

Congratulations Andrea Durant on reporting the results of your field study in the British Virgin Islands that shows how mosquitoes adjust their physiology to live in poop! See: Nature: Scientific Reports 9,19028 (2019).

August 29, 2019

Elia Grieco Guardian, Congratulations on receiving an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship.

August 29, 2019

Fargol Nowghani, Congratulations on your MSc thesis, awarded with high distinction and published in Aquatic Toxicology. Best wishes in Dental School at Trinity College, Dublin.

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 17, 2018

We would like to thank Peter Piermarini for organizing the OARDC Mosquito Conference 2018 and inviting us to participate. It was a great meeting!

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.

November 6, 2017

Congratulations to Fargol Nowghani and Sima Jonusaite. Their work is hi-lighted on the cover of this months issue of Journal of Experimental Biology. Issue Cover Hi-light

October 2, 2017

Congratulations to Fargol Nowghani! Her undergraduate thesis on mayfly ion regulation was hi-lighted on Yfile, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology and she received the AGSBS Thesis Prize! Mayfly yfile article

August 28, 2017

Heath MacMillan, Gil Yerushalmi and Sima Jonusaite published a study in Scientific Reports demonstrating that flies suffer from leaky guts in the cold, adding to our successful continued collaborative work with Dr. Scott Kelly.
YFile article

June 20, 2017

Thank you Heath MacMillan for a couple of GREAT years! You’ve left your mark on the lab and we hope to keep working together with you. BEST WISHES!! at your new post as Assistant Prof at Carleton!

YFile Article

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

View Image

April 10, 2017

Congratulations to Lidiya Misyura and Gil Yerushalmi for being awarded the Vernon Oliver Stong Scholarship in Science. Announcement

March 9, 2017

Congratulations to Lidiya Misyura for being awarded the AGSBS Dean’s Honours Undergraduate Thesis award for 2016.

View Image

February 17, 2017

Best Wishes for your Post Doc Dr. Sima Jonusaite!!! Hope to see you at conferences and keep in touch.

View Image

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.

November 21, 2016

Congratulations to Andrea Durant on her first publication! Aedes aegypti Rhesus glycoproteins contribute to ammonia excretion by larval anal papillae in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Article

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.

View Image

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 23, 2016

Congratulations to Gil, Lidiya and Andrea for Conferral of their Bachelor of Science with Honours (Gil, Lidiya) and Master of Science (Andrea) Degrees.

View Image

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.

May 10, 2016

Well done Gil Yerushalmi for being a finalist for the HI Battle and GF Holeton awards at the CSZ 2016 meeting presenting his undergraduate thesis work.

April 11, 2016

Congratulations to Lidiya Misyura and Gil Yerushalmi for defending their Undergraduate Honours Research Theses in exceptional fashion!

March 20, 2016

Congratulations to Lidiya Misyura for winning the Best Talk in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Ontario Biology Day 2016.

View Image

March 20, 2016

Fargol Nowghani (Research Practicum) and Lidiya Misyura (Honours Research Thesis) presented their undergraduate research work at Ontario Biology Day 2016 at Ryerson.

View Image

March 12, 2016

Sima’s initial novel work on claudin-like transmembrane septate junction proteins in mosquitoes is now published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology B. Stay tuned for more of Sima’s great work!

February 22, 2016

Congratulations to Lidiya Misyura for her first publication. Here’s to many more!

September 10, 2015

Welcome to Heath MacMillan (Banting PDF) who joins us to work on the physiological mechanisms of cold tolerance in Drosophila.

September 10, 2015

Thanks to Jonathan Tebbi (NSERC USRA) and Adil Qadari (Research at York) for a successful and productive summer of research.

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.

March 5, 2015

Congratulations to Hina Akhter for successful defense of her Masters thesis!

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 23, 2014

Congratulations to Adrian Ionescu for successful defense of his Masters thesis.

May 12, 2014

Congratulations to Sima Jonusaite on her recent Ontario Graduate Scholarship Award!

February 25, 2014

Just returned from the fantastic Invertebrate Neuropeptide Conference 2014 held in El Calafate, Argentina. Thank you Ron, Fernando and Rolando for the invitation and the wonderful meeting!

View Image

January 2, 2014

Wishing Phuong Bui all the best in her new position of Laboratory Technician in our Department’s undergraduate teaching program.

September 18, 2013

We wish Lisa Robertson the very best at her new position of Assistant Professor, in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. We already miss you!

September 16, 2013

Welcome Helen Chasiotis to the lab. Helen’s Postdoctoral research will focus on knockdown of genes in mosquito larvae.

April 30, 2013

Congratulations to Melika and Rida for successful defense of their Undergraduate Thesis!

January 2, 2013

Congratulations to Shayan for successful defense of his Undergraduate Thesis!.

Welcome Phuong Bui to the lab (Lab Research Associate).

November 3, 2012

This week Sima presented her work on septate junctions at the Molecular Structure and Function of the Apical Junctional Complex in Epithelia and Endothelia International Conference in Merida, Mexico.

View Image

October 1, 2012

Welcome Lisa Robertson to the lab. Lisa (PostDoctoral Fellow) will be researching the neural and endocrine control of ion transport at the anal papillae of chironomids and mosquitoes.

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.

May 4, 2012

Congratulations to Jesmila for successful defense of her M Sc. Thesis. The examination committee recommended awarding the degree with High Distinction.

April 28, 2012

Congratulations to Yonatan for successful defense of his Undergraduate Thesis!

April 22, 2012

Yonatan Muyal will defend his undergraduate thesis on Friday, April 27th, 2012 at 2pm in FQ 201 and Jesmila Marusalin will defend her Master’s thesis on Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 at 10AM in FQ 201.

Our Funding