Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Investigation of biological factors contributing to individual variation in viral titer after oral infection of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by sindbis virus.

Abstract

The mechanisms involved in determining arbovirus vector competence, or the ability of an arbovirus to infect and be transmitted by an arthropod vector, are still incompletely understood. It is well known that vector competence for a particular arbovirus can vary widely among different populations of a mosquito species, which is generally attributed to genetic differences between populations. What is less understood is the considerable variability (up to several logs) that is routinely observed in the virus titer between individual mosquitoes in a single experiment, even in mosquitoes from highly inbred lines. This extreme degree of variation in the virus titer between individual mosquitoes has been largely ignored in past studies. We investigated which biological factors can affect titer variation between individual mosquitoes of a laboratory strain of Aedes aegypti, the Orlando strain, after Sindbis virus infection. Greater titer variation was observed after oral versus intrathoracic infection, suggesting that the midgut barrier contributes to titer variability. Among the other factors tested, only the length of the incubation period affected the degree of titer variability, while virus strain, mosquito strain, mosquito age, mosquito weight, amount of blood ingested, and virus concentration in the blood meal had no discernible effect. We also observed differences in culture adaptability and in the ability to orally infect mosquitoes between virus populations obtained from low and high titer mosquitoes, suggesting that founder effects may affect the virus titer in individual mosquitoes, although other explanations also remain possible.