Assistant Director of Undergraduate Research
The maintenance of fluid homeostasis is essential to the survival of an organism, and defects in this process lead to disease. At the cellular level, water channels, called aquaporins, allow for the rapid movement of water across the plasma membrane. Defects in this process in human lead to diseases such as diabetes insipidus.
The focus of this research is to use Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to further our understanding of these channel proteins. We plan to take a genetic approach to determining the function of the 8 aquaporins found in the Drosophila genome. Due to their small size, these insects are constantly at risk of rapid desiccation,yet they must maintain a low body weight in order to fly. A similar problem is confronted by the related dipteran, the mosquito Anopheles gambia which is responsible for the transmission of malaria. Understanding how aquaporins function in Drosophila melanogaster may allow us insight into disrupting the maintenance of fluid homeostasis in the malaria disease vector mosquito and in helping us to predict the effects of global climate change on the dipteran population.