The Kanost group studies biochemistry and molecular biology of insects. We currently do experimental work with three insect species: the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta; the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae; and the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum.
Manduca sexta, also known as the tobacco hornworm, is good for studies of insect immunity. The caterpillars are much larger than most insects, and this property facilitates the purification of immune related proteins from their blood.
Anopheles gambiae is a species of mosquito that transmits malaria in Africa. We are studying multicopper oxidases to discover whether these enzymes play a role in cuticle biosythesis, eggshell tanning, detoxification or metal metabolism in mosquitoes.
Tribolium castaneum, also known as the red flour beetle, is one of the best insect species for genetics studies. We are using genetics and biochemical techniques to learn how the hard exoskeleton of Tribolium is formed.