Start Date: Dec 10, 2004
End Date: Oct 22, 2009
Ecological data will be developed for criteria used to incriminate insect species that serve as vectors of obscure or little studied pathogens in nature. Emphasis will be placed on clarifying the role of sand flies, grasshoppers, and Culicoides as vectors and reservoirs of vesicular stomatitis viruses, as well as the role of both blood feeding and non-blood feeding insects in the natural transmission of prions. The role of environmental factors as determinants of insect vector distribution and susceptibility to arboviruses will be developed using geographic information system approaches to estimate vector distribution and pathogen susceptibility, thus enabling prediction of livestock risk for pathogen exposure. The midgut microbial flora of biting midges will be assessed using non-culture based molecular tests, such as T-RFLP, quantitative PCR or macro-arrays, and correlated with insect susceptibility to arbovirus infection. Arbovirus susceptibility and infection pathways in insect vectors will be investigated by identifying salivary gland and midgut proteins that will be analyzed by mass spectromety and compared with available protein databases and compared between blood-fed and non-blood fed individuals. RNA interference (RNAi) will be used to down regulate genes and thus identify the role of gene products in the susceptibility of insects to arbovirus infection. BSL-3; Pending.