Regulation of Complex Behavior by Neuropeptides
Although the insect nervous system is relatively simple, it has not prevented these animals from engaging in quite complex behaviors. One such insect behavior that has led to much human suffering is the one that allows a mosquito to find a host for a meal of blood. Using various chemical and visual signals that we humans give off, mosquitos are able to locate us and ingest our blood, and in the process transmit often deadly disease agents. Dr. Klowden is an internationally renown expert on mosquito behavior in the complex environment. He has identified times when the insect itself controls its behavior and does not seek a host. Using these periods of inaction, Dr. Klowden identified a novel FMRFamide-related neuropeptide, Aedes Head Peptide 1, that specifically inhibits host seeking behavior in the yellow fever mosquito, and prevents them from feeding on blood. Using extremely difficult technical/surgical techniques, he can begin to unravel the mechanisms by which Aedes Head Peptide 1 prevents mosquito host-seeking behavior from occurring, and how this hormone interacts with other factors. The results from these fundamental studies are likely to lead to new discoveries that will substantially impact progress in the neuroendocrinology of insects and insect behavior. In addition, basic findings derived from this research should provide essential information needed for the development of better strategies for the control of populations of mosquitoes and the diseases that they transmit via their blood-feeding activities.