Nutritional Stress Affects Mosquito Survival and Vector Competence for West Nile Virus


Vaidyanathan, R., Fleisher, A. E., Minnick, S. L., Simmons, K. A., & Scott, T. W. (2008). Nutritional stress affects mosquito survival and vector competence for West Nile virus. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 8(6), 727-732.


Most anautogenous female mosquitoes ingest plant carbohydrates for flight energy and survival, and they imbibe vertebrate blood for egg development. We evaluated the effect of different sucrose meals following a blood meal containing West Nile virus (WNV) on Culex pipiens pipiens survival, nutritional status, and susceptibility to viral infection and transmission. Ten days after blood feeding, no mosquitoes survived on distilled water, 55% survived on 2% sucrose, 61% on 10 and 20% sucrose meals, and over 70% survived on 40% sucrose. There was a positive correlation between sucrose meal concentration and detectable sugars, glycogen, and lipid in whole-body homogenates. Average sugar values increased from 0 μg per starved mosquito (range 0–1.0 μg) to an average of 392 μg per mosquito fed on 40% sucrose (85–1088 μg). Average glycogen values increased from 0 μg (0–5.7 μg) to an average of 620 μg (118–1421 μg). Average lipid values were identical for mosquitoes in the starved and 2% sucrose series (38 μg) and increased to 172 μg per mosquito fed on 40% sucrose (92–266 μg). Mosquitoes in all sucrose series were equally susceptible to WNV infection (p > 0.5), but mosquitoes with lower nutrient reserves as a result of lower sucrose meals were more likely were more likely to orally transmit virus (p < 0.05). We discuss how mosquito nutritional status influences probability of daily survival, susceptibility to infection, and vectorial capacity. We conclude that maintaining C. p. pipiens on standard 10% sucrose is justified in light of these results.

Keywords: Arbovirus(es), Mosquito(es), Survival, West Nile

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