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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #438169

Research Project: Effects of Arbovirus Infection on Insect Feeding Behavior

Location: Operations

Project Number: 3022-32000-013-004-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Jun 30, 2025

The objective is to determine if virus infection changes the feeding behavior of Culex mosquitoes and Culicoides. Detecting changes in feeding behavior will provide insight into virus transmission and pathogenicity and will identify actions needed to break the transmission cycle. Aim 1: Understanding effects of virus infection in Culex feeding behavior Aim 1a: Establish the feeding behavior library for a Culex mosquito. Aim 1b: Determine effects of Rift Valley fever virus infection on the feeding behavior of Culex mosquito. Aim 1c. Determine effects of Japanese encephalitis virus infection on the feeding behavior of Culex mosquito. Aim 2: Establishing the feeding behavior of Culicoides. Aim 2a: Establish method of creating electrical circuit containing Culicoides and develop feeding behavior library for Culicoides. Aim 2b: Determine effects of Vesicular stomatitis virus infection on the feeding behavior of Culicoides.

A. Establish feeding behavior library for the Culex mosquitoes and Culicoides. This work will collect data from multiple feeding insects on different days using the AC-DC electropenetrograph (EPG, already in-house) and an analog-to digital converter software. For this technology, the bloodmeal and the insect became part of a simple circuit. The EPG measures fluctuations in the electrical circuit that occur during the different feeding behaviors (probing, salivation, ingestion, etc.). The fluctuation will create different waveforms that is then correlated to a specific feeding behavior, creating the feeding behavior library. A correlation between the waveforms and behavior will be made by visualizing behavior, dissection of mosquito for presence of blood meal, and extrapolation from previously described wavelengths of similar insects. B. Insects will be infected with different viruses (RVFV, JEV, VSV) and fed on an artificial blood meal. The waveforms of the feeding behaviors from infected and uninfected mosquitoes will be analyzed using the AC-DC EPG and analog to digital converter software. The waveforms will be compared between infected and uninfected insects. Differences in the waveforms will give precise data demonstrating which feeding behaviors change due to infection.