Development of mosquitocidal bait: A recombinant fusion atracotoxin (Jun a 3/ACTX) produced by viral vector in Nicotiana benthamiana offered in various matrices
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ABSTRACT Development of mosquitocidal bait: A recombinant fusion atracotoxin (Jun a 3/ACTX) produced by viral vector in Nicotiana benthamiana offered in various matrices Daniel Saca Director: Dr. Christopher M. Kearney Mosquito-borne diseases are a persistent global concern that is currently addressed through the use of pesticides. These pesticides are a source of environmental and human concern due to their lack of specificity. As a result, both environmentally beneficial insects and pests are exterminated in the same degree. My research is focused on the development of a target specific toxin and the selection of a mosquito-attractant matrix. The toxin of choice is an invertebrate-specific peptide neurotoxin (ACTX), which was isolated from the venom of Australian funnel-web spiders. With the use of a viral vector system dependent on the FECT/40 vector, originally from the foxtail mosaic virus, and the addition of Jun a 3 as a signaling protein we were able to produce the recombinant fusion protein (Jun a 3/ACTX) in N. benthamiana. To address the matter of the proper matrix, solutions high in sugar content were chosen. Studies indicate an innate attraction of mosquitoes towards solutions high in sugar, which plants usually offer as a lure for cross-pollinators such as mosquitoes. Therefore, Jun a 3/ACTX and some protein standards were tested for degradation levels in matrix candidates such as honey, high fructose corn syrup, and carob solution. Mosquitocidal properties of the bait were tested on adult Aedes albopictus.