This exhibit displays information on genetics of mosquitoes. The length of mosquito DNA and the size of the cell nucleus are comparable to three miles of thread fitted into a single table tennis ball. The booth shows how the chromosomes are organized in the cell nucleus into separate territories. DNA in chromosome territories can be visualized with chromosome-specific color oligopaints. Videos of chromosomes and their computational models are used to demonstrate cell type specific organization in mosquitoes.
The information about mosquito DNA and chromosomes can be used to manipulate mosquito genetics and make them incapable of transmitting diseases. Enjoy the exhibit!
This exhibit is hosted by the Sharakhov Laboratory in the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology. The lab's main research focus is genomics and evolutionary cytogenetics of mosquitoes – vectors of human infectious diseases. Dr. Sharakhov is interested in understanding the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of mosquito evolution, adaptation, and reproduction. He and his laboratory team develop and implement cytogenetic and genomic tools to understand these mechanisms and to infer historic relationships among species. This research addresses problems imposed by the ongoing rapid spread of infectious diseases and provides the foundation for the development of novel genome-based approaches for vector control. Another area of his research is three-dimensional organization of chromosomes in cell nuclei of fruit flies and mosquitoes.