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NMSU researcher, Creative Media Institute collaborate to publish scientific video

New Mexico State University researchers are joining the trend of scientists posting how-to videos of their experiments in the world's first video science journal.

"RNAi-mediated Gene Knockdown and In Vivo Diuresis Assay in Adult Female Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes," is an 8-minute film co-written by Immo Hansen, assistant professor of biology and CMI professor, Phil Lewis. The film has been published in Journal of Visualized Experiments, the world's first video science journal. (submitted photo)

Immo Hansen, assistant professor of biology at NMSU, studies the molecular biology of mosquitoes. Two techniques he developed in his lab are the subject of a film, which was published by the Journal of Visualized Experiments, the world's first online science journal. (submitted photo)

Immo Hansen, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, recently partnered with NMSU Creative Media Institute professor, Phil Lewis, to produce a technical film that demonstrates how to "knock down" genes in live mosquitoes. The film and the accompanying paper, which are meant to serve as a teaching tool for other molecular disease vector biology researchers, were recently published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, or JoVE.

JoVE publications are a combination of video and peer-reviewed scientific article that are indexed by the National Institute of Health in its PubMed database. JoVE is an online video journal designed to increase the productivity of scientific research. Because these articles involve rigorous peer-review, scientists get credit for the video as a publication, which doesn't happen when they post a YouTube video.

Through these JoVE videos, a researcher becomes linked with his experiments and some say they have received a greater response to a scientific video than the paper published in a traditional journal. So far, Hansen's video has generated more than 1,100 downloads on JoVE.

"Compared to some viral YouTube videos, that does not look like much, but for a methods presentation, it is quite a lot," Hansen said.

"In journal terms, that's an outrageous number," said Lewis. "If we even had 10 people who found it useful in the classroom that would be complete success."

The project, "RNAi-mediated Gene Knockdown and In Vivo Diuresis Assay in Adult Female Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes," is an 8-minute film co-written by Lewis and Hansen, marking their first collaboration. With Lewis directing, the film was shot using microscopic photography illustrating two techniques developed in Hansen's lab.

"We use this technique to 'knock down' gene expression of selected genes that we want to study in mosquitoes," Hansen said. "After knocking down the gene we look for changes in the mosquito phenotype."

In the film, mosquitoes are injected with large amounts of liquid, similar to a person drinking 20 gallons of water. Researchers then measure how quickly it's eliminated, testing the genes involvement in the production of urine.

"Mosquitoes are specialized to take up their own body weight in human blood so they can survive this procedure,' Hansen said.

Biology students starring in the film alongside Hansen include Lisa Drake, a graduate student who has the starring role; David Price, a graduate student in the Molecular Biology Program; and Sarah Aguirre, an undergraduate researcher from NMSU's Howard Hughes Medical Institute program.

Working with Lewis from CMI were college instructors Edward Bakshi and Jessica Gorell. Bakshi animated the film and Gorell directed the voiceover.

"It was really a joy working with Immo and his students," Lewis said. "We have become friends with all the hard work and we're happy to be successful together."

Given overwhelming response to Hansen's experiment on the video, Lewis and Hansen plan to develop a summer program for high school students based on the mosquito project.

To view the video, visit https://vimeo.com/33042883. For more information about Hansen's experiment on JoVE visit http://www.jove.com/video/3479/rnai-mediated-gene-knockdown-vivo-diuresis-assay-adult-female-aedes.