Pria Louka ’19
Department of Chemistry
This image depicts the paraformaldehyde-fixed brain of a female Aedus aegypti mosquito infected with the Zika virus. Mosquito brains are washed extensively before being tagged with green fluorescent dye in order to produce the clearest possible image. Many chemicals are used during the washing process, ranging from goat serum to anti-mouse conjugated antibodies. Fresh mixtures of dimethyl sulfoxide increases tissue permeability, and the brain turns from cream-colored to invisible in the test-tube. The whole washing process can take up to two days. Then, dissecting, fixing, washing, and imaging can take a week, as great care is required while handling the brains (which are smaller than the period at the end of this sentence). Then comes analysis, and mapping the 32 glomeruli of the antennal lobes. The purpose is to better understand why mosquitoes are so attracted to human odor.