Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Histochemical staining techniques in Culex pipiens and Drosophila melanogaster (Diptera) with a comparison to mammals

Insects play an important role in ecosystems. Changes in their abundance and biodiversity are of paramount interest, as there has not only been an alarming decline of insects important for ecosystem health throughout the past decades, but also an increase in insects detrimental for biomes. Furthermore, insects pose a threat to modern society as arbovirus-transmitting vectors. Therefore, detailed knowledge of insect staining characteristics could be beneficial as a basis for further studies, whether in the context of species conservation or control of insect pests. Thus, this study compared 14 histochemical stains for their usefulness in insects regarding nervous tissue, connective tissue components, mucins and polysaccharides, mineralization, and microorganisms. The study used formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue sections of mammals (Equus caballus) and 2 dipterans (Culex pipiens biotype molestus, Drosophila melanogaster). Several histochemical stains were suitable for tissue assessment in insects and mammals, in particular for nervous tissue (Bielschowsky silver stain, luxol fast blue-cresyl violet) and polysaccharides (alcian blue, periodic acid-Schiff with and without diastase treatment, toluidine blue). Other stains proved useful for visualization of insect-specific organ characteristics such as Gomori's reticulin stain for tracheoles in both dipteran species, Heidenhain's azan for midgut-associated connective tissue, and von Kossa for mineral deposition in Malpighian tubules of C. pipiens biotype molestus. In summary, this study provides comparable insights into histochemical procedures in mammals and insects and their usefulness for histological assessment of C. pipiens biotype molestus and D. melanogaster.

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