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Image of the Month: Colorful Spit Glands

Image of the Month: Colorful Spit Glands

Spit glands don’t come in many colors, unless of course, they are from Johns Hopkins researcher Deborah Andrew’s lab. Shown in the image is the salivary gland of a female Anopheles mosquito, popularly known for her role in spreading malaria. In red are two lobes of the salivary gland and in green are thousands of freeloading malaria parasites that are waiting to be squirted out through the salivary duct (blue) when the mosquito takes her next blood meal. Despite being present in staggeringly large numbers in the salivary gland, only a small fraction of the parasites are ever released during a bite. Using images like these, Andrew and her team study how mosquito salivary glands act as natural barriers to parasites and thwart disease transmission.

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