Pietrantonio’s Fire Ant Research Featured in Podcast

Texas A&M Entomology professor Dr. Patricia Pietrantonio’s fire ant research project was recently featured in a video posted by the science media podcast website EarthSky.

The podcast is located at http://earthsky.org/earth/science-fights-to-control-fire-ants, highlights the destructive impact of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta Buren) and the ongoing basic research efforts to conceive better strategies to control this pest.

Pietrantonio’s National Science Foundation-funded project, titled “Neuropeptide Receptors and Identification of Genes in Signaling Networks Involved in Reproduction and Nutrition in the Red Imported Fire Ant”, focuses on localizing the neuropeptide receptors in the brains of both queen and worker ants.

She said the neuropeptide receptors may regulate genes that are involved in ant reproduction (via ovarian development, the egg maturing processes), or sensing the ant’s nutritional status.

Pietrantonio said that knowing the physiological mechanisms by which queens sense their nutritional status, reproduce, and by which task allocation occurs in worker ants would possibly help bring solutions to controlling the ants. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, fire ants have generated up to an estimated $5 billion per year in losses.

To help communicate their research to broad audiences, members of Pietrantonio’s lab collaborated with EarthSky to help produce short educational video podcasts both in English and Spanish for both the web and broadcast. The podcast can be seen on the website at earthsky.org

To see the Spanish version of the video, visit https://youtu.be/J9iQfaqBDLY .

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