Maestro Lab
Nutritional signals in insects
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José L. Maestro

Staff Scientist (Científico Titular, CSIC)
Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF)
Barcelona, Spain



Research Interests

 

The main research interest of our group focuses on the study of how nutritional signals are detected by the organisms and which are the processes triggered in the different tissues in response to the nutritional status. A typical case in which the flow of information from nutrition to physiological events becomes crucial is that of the anautogenous organisms. Anautogeny is a successful reproductive strategy typically used by different mosquito species, but also by other insects. Females of the anautogenous species do not initiate the reproductive processes until they have made a food intake. This intake will trigger a series of signals that will activate the physiological, metabolic or endocrine processes that will lead to reproduction. The female of the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, is a typical anautogenous insect that will not start the production of reproductive hormones or yolk proteins until it has eaten. This species is a very good model of insect physiology because its reproduction is governed, as in most insects, by juvenile hormone and not by ecdysteroids as it only happens in dipterans (flies and mosquitoes). During the last years, we have studied the functions of different proteins involved in nutritional signaling in B. germanica. These functions are related to reproduction, but also to growth, stress resistance or longevity.

We are also working on a study aimed at understanding how the mechanism of RNAi works in insects, what is the specific function of the proteins involved in its functioning (Dicer, R2D2, Argonaute) and which intermediate molecules (small interfering RNAs) are more likely to be produced.

 

 

 

Positions Available

Students interested in joining our group to do a Master Thesis, Ph.D. Thesis or postdoctoral work, please contact Dr. Maestro by sending an e-mail describing their scientific interests and academic experience.

 

Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF)
Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain