From Mosquito Ovaries to Ecdysone; from Ecdysone to Wolbachia: One Woman’s Career in Insect Biology

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In anautogenous mosquitoes, synchronous development of terminal ovarian follicles after a blood meal provides an important model for studies on insect reproduction. Removal and implantation of ovaries, in vitro culture of dissected tissues and immunological assays for vitellogenin synthesis by the fat body showed that the Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera, Culicidae) mosquito ovary produces a factor essential for egg production. The discovery that the ovarian factor was the insect steroid hormone, ecdysone, provided a model for co-option of the larval hormones as reproductive hormones in adult insects. In later work on cultured mosquito cells, ecdysone was shown to arrest the cell cycle, resulting in an accumulation of diploid cells in G1, prior to initiation of DNA synthesis. Some mosquito species, such as Culex pipiens L. (Diptera, Culicidae), harbor the obligate intracellular bacterium, Wolbachia pipientis Hertig (Rickettsiales, Anaplasmataceae), in their reproductive tissues. When maintained in mosquito cell lines, Wolbachia abundance increases in ecdysone-arrested cells. This observation facilitated the recovery of high levels of Wolbachia from cultured cells for microinjection and genetic manipulation. In female Culex pipiens, it will be of interest to explore how hormonal cues that support initiation and progression of the vitellogenic cycle influence Wolbachia replication and transmission to subsequent generations via infected eggs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number756
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Current research on Wolbachia is funded by the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, St. Paul, MN, USA and by a Grant-in-Aid from the University of Minnesota.

Funding Information:
The author thanks her former associates for their work and dedication, and the NIH and the UDSA for previous financial support. Specific grant numbers are provided in the citations.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the author.


  • cell cycle
  • cell line
  • flow cytometry
  • insect reproduction
  • mosquito
  • obligate intracellular bacterium
  • organ culture

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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