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Insect-Specific Viruses Detected in Laboratory Mosquito Colonies and Their Potential Implications for Experiments Evaluating Arbovirus Vector Competence

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  • Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas

Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the detection and characterization of insect-specific viruses in field-collected mosquitoes. Evidence suggests that these viruses are ubiquitous in nature and that many are maintained by vertical transmission in mosquito populations. Some studies suggest that the presence of insect-specific viruses may inhibit replication of a super-infecting arbovirus, thus altering vector competence of the mosquito host. Accordingly, we screened our laboratory mosquito colonies for insect-specific viruses. Pools of colony mosquitoes were homogenized and inoculated into cultures of Aedes albopictus (C6/36) cells. The infected cells were examined by electron microscopy and deep sequencing was performed on RNA extracts. Electron micrograph images indicated the presence of three different viruses in three of our laboratory mosquito colonies. Potential implications of these findings for vector competence studies are discussed.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Bethany G. Bolling, Texas Department of State Health Services, Laboratory Services Section, P.O. Box 149347, Austin, TX 78714-9347. E-mail: Bethany.Bolling@dshs.state.tx.us

Financial support: This study was supported by NIH T-32 training grant A1007536 and by NIH contract HHSN27220100040I/HHSN27200004/DO4.

Authors' addresses: Bethany G. Bolling, Nikos Vasilakis, Hilda Guzman, Steven G. Widen, Thomas G. Wood, Vsevolod L. Popov, Saravanan Thangamani, and Robert B. Tesh, Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, E-mails: bethanybolling@gmail.com, nivasila@utmb.edu, hguzman@utmb.edu, sgwiden@utmb.edu, tgwood@utmb.edu, vpopov@utmb.edu, sathanga@utmb.edu, and rtesh@utmb.edu. Present address: Bethany G. Bolling, Texas Department of State Health Services, Laboratory Services Section, Austin, TX, E-mail: bethany.bolling@dshs.state.tx.us.

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