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Location: Arthropod-borne Animal Diseases Research

Title: The salivary secretome of the biting midge, Culicoides sonorensis

item Lehiy, Christopher
item Drolet, Barbara

Submitted to: PeerJ
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/2014
Publication Date: 6/5/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Lehiy, C.J., Drolet, B.S. 2014. The salivary secretome of the biting midge, Culicoides sonorensis. PeerJ. 2:e426. doi:10.7717/peerj.426.

Interpretive Summary: Biting midges (noseeums, punkies) are common agricultural pests which transmit viruses such as bluetongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease and Schmallenberg to livestock and wildlife. Proteins in the saliva of related flies have been shown to facilitate blood feeding by dilating vessels and preventing clotting. Additionally, some proteins may interact with the animal’s immune system thereby affecting the ability of a virus delivered during feeding to establish infection. We identified 45 proteins in midge saliva and characterized their function based on their similarity with previously identified salivary proteins from other insects. Identifying the proteins in midge saliva is critical for understanding their role in blood feeding, virus transmission, and possibly the disease process in the animal.

Technical Abstract: Culicoides biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are hematophagous insects with over 1400 species distributed throughout the world. Many of these species are of particular agricultural importance as primary vectors of bluetongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease and Schmallenberg viruses. Detailed studies of members from other blood-feeding Dipteran families, including those of mosquito (Culicidae) and black fly (Simuliidae), have shown that protein components within the insect’s saliva facilitate the blood feeding process. To determine the protein components in Culicoides sonorensis midges, secreted saliva was collected and submitted for MS/MS peptide sequencing. Forty-five secreted proteins were identified, including members of the D7 odorant binding protein family, Kunitz-like serine protease inhibitors, maltase, trypsin, and six novel proteins unique to C. sonorensis. Identifying the complex myriad of proteins in saliva from blood-feeding Dipteran species is critical for understanding their role in blood feeding, arbovirus transmission, and possibly pathogenesis.