Climatic changes forecasted in the coming years are likely to result in substantial alterations to the distributions and populations of vectors of arthropod-borne pathogens. Characterization of the effect of temperature shifts on the life history traits of specific vectors is needed to more accurately define how such changes could impact the epidemiological patterns of vector-borne disease. Here, we determined the effect of temperatures including 16, 20, 24, 28, and 32°C on development time, immature survival, adult survival, mosquito size, blood feeding, and fecundity of both field and colonized populations of the Culex mosquitoes Culex pipiens L., Culex quinquefasciatus Say, and Culex restuans Theobald. Our results demonstrate that temperature significantly affects all of these traits, yet also that the extent of this effect is at times incongruent among temperatures, as well as being population and species-specific. Comparisons of colonized mosquitoes with field populations generally demonstrate decreased adult and immature survival, increased blood feeding and egg production, and significant variation in the effects of temperature, indicating that such colonies are not fully representative of natural populations. Results with field populations in general indicate that increases in temperature are likely to accelerate mosquito development, and that this effect is greater at temperatures below 24°C, but also that temperature significantly increases mortality. Among field populations, Cx. restuans were most affected by temperature increases, with decreased longevity relative to other species and significant increases in adult and immature mortality measured with each incremental temperature increase. Despite the unique climates characteristic of the geographic ranges of Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. pipiens, evidence of significant species-specific adaptation to temperature ranges was not seen. Taken together, these results indicate that geographic region, as well as species and population differences, must be considered when measuring the effect of temperature on vector populations.
Novel strategies are required to control mosquitoes and the pathogens they transmit. One attractive approach involves maternally inherited endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria. After artificial infection with Wolbachia, many mosquitoes become refractory to infection and transmission of diverse pathogens. We evaluated the effects of Wolbachia (wAlbB strain) on infection, dissemination and transmission of West Nile virus (WNV) in the naturally uninfected mosquito Culex tarsalis, which is an important WNV vector in North America. After inoculation into adult female mosquitoes, Wolbachia reached high titers and disseminated widely to numerous tissues including the head, thoracic flight muscles, fat body and ovarian follicles. Contrary to other systems, Wolbachia did not inhibit WNV in this mosquito. Rather, WNV infection rate was significantly higher in Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes compared to controls. Quantitative PCR of selected innate immune genes indicated that REL1 (the activator of the antiviral Toll immune pathway) was down regulated in Wolbachia-infected relative to control mosquitoes. This is the first observation of Wolbachia-induced enhancement of a human pathogen in mosquitoes, suggesting that caution should be applied before releasing Wolbachia-infected insects as part of a vector-borne disease control program.
We examined the ability of Culex pipiens L. complex mosquitoes from Argentina to vector West Nile virus (WNV) to assess their role in the transmission of WNV in South America. Several egg rafts of Culex spp. were collected from different breeding sites in the suburbs of the city of La Plata, Argentina, and a subset of each progeny was scored with morphological and genetic species indicators. Surprisingly, we did not find Cx. pipiens form pipiens, but found evidence of genetic hybrids of Culex quinquefasciatus and Cx. pipiens f. molestus. We then used morphological traits to create two colonies predominantly composed of one of these two taxa, although some hybrids are likely to have been included in both. These colonies were used in vector competence studies using NY99 and WN02 genotype strains of WNV obtained in New York State. As controls, we also tested colonies of U.S. Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. pipiens f. molestus. Additional Culex larvae from three drainage ditches near the cities of La Plata and Berisso, Argentina, were identified by morphological and high-resolution molecular markers (microsatellites) as Cx. quinquefasciatus Say, Cx. pipiens form molestus, and hybrids. Results indicate that Argentinian Culex are competent but only moderately efficient vectors of WNV and are less susceptible to this virus than comparable U.S. mosquito strains. Studies of vertical transmission of NY99 virus by Cx. pipiens f. molestus hybrids from Argentina yielded a minimal filial infection rate of 1.19 from females feeding during their second and later bloodmeals.
BackgroundVirulence is often coupled with replicative fitness of viruses in vertebrate systems, yet the relationship between virulence and fitness of arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) in invertebrates has not been evaluated. Although the interactions between vector-borne pathogens and their invertebrate hosts have been characterized as being largely benign, some costs of arbovirus exposure have been identified for mosquitoes. The extent to which these costs may be strain-specific and the subsequent consequences of these interactions on vector and virus evolution has not been adequately explored.ResultsUsing West Nile virus (WNV) and Culex pipiens mosquitoes, we tested the hypothesis that intrahost fitness is correlated with virulence in mosquitoes by evaluating life history traits following exposure to either non-infectious bloodmeals or bloodmeals containing wildtype (WNV WT) or the high fitness, mosquito-adapted strain, WNV MP20 derived from WNV WT. Our results demonstrate strain-specific effects on mosquito survival, fecundity, and blood feeding behavior. Specifically, both resistance to and infection with WNV MP20, but not WNV WT, decreased survival of Cx. pipiens and altered fecundity and bloodfeeding such that early egg output was enhanced at a later cost.ConclusionsAs predicted by the trade-off hypothesis of virulence, costs of infection with WNV MP20 in terms of survival were directly correlated to viral load, yet resistance to infection with this virulent strain was equally costly. Taken together, these results demonstrate that WNV MP20 infection decreases the transmission potential of Cx. pipiens populations despite the increased intrahost fitness of this strain, indicating that a virulence-transmission trade-off in invertebrates could contribute significantly to the adaptive and evolutionary constraint of arboviruses.
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