Defining the mechanisms of action and mosquito larva midgut response to a yeast-encapsulated orange oil larvicide

Patrick H. Kelly, Alexandra V. Yingling, Anwar Ahmed, Ivy Hurwitz, Marcelo Ramalho-Ortigao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Yeast-encapsulated orange oil (YEOO) is a novel, ingestible larvicide that combines the benefits of a low-cost essential oil with yeast, an attractive food source for mosquito larvae. In this work, we investigated the underlying mechanisms of action associated with YEOO ingestion by Aedes aegypti larvae. Methods: Aedes aegypti third-stage larvae (L3) were treated with sublethal or lethal concentrations of YEOO. Genes associated with apoptosis, autophagy and innate immune responses were investigated by RT-qPCR in guts and carcasses dissected from treated and control larvae. Differential expression of cytochrome P450 genes in the CYP6 and CYP9 families were also investigated. Confocal and transmission electron microscopy were used to assess damage caused by YEOO throughout the larval alimentary canal. TUNEL was used to assess apoptosis via DNA fragmentation. Results: The apoptosis genes IAP1 and IAP2 in larvae displayed opposing effects following exposure to lethal doses of YEOO, with a 26-fold induction of IAP1 at 8 h post YEOO ingestion. The effector caspase CASPS8 displayed a 6.7-fold induction in the gut and concomitant 70-fold induction in the carcass at 8 h post YEOO ingestion. The midgut epithelia regenerator, Vein, had an 11-fold induction in the gut after 4 h and was repressed 7.6-fold in the carcass at 24 h. Sublethal concentrations (< LC50) led to significant differential expression of CYP6 and CYP9 genes. Midgut epithelial damage was highlighted by the destruction of microvilli, vacuolization of midgut cells and damage to cell junctions and basal lamina as early as 30 min. Larval type 2 peritrophic matrix structural integrity and porosity remain unchanged. Conclusion: Our results strongly suggest that the robust larvicidal activity of YEOO is due to a generalized broad-acting mechanism combining epithelial damage and apoptosis, with concomitant expression of multiple innate response genes involved in epithelial regeneration and detoxification. YEOO’s amenability for use as part of an integrated vector management program makes this novel larvicide a practical approach for mosquito larval control in the future. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number183
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Aedes aegypti
  • Essential oil
  • Gene expression
  • Larvicide
  • Midgut
  • Mosquito larva
  • YEOO


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