Gorben Pijlman, Ronald van Rij, Barry Rockx
Vector competence, described as the ability of a vector (in this case a mosquito) to transmit a certain pathogen after blood feeding on an infected host, is known to differ according to biotic and abiotic factors. In light of global warming and environmental change, this project will specifically focus on the impact of these changes on vectors and their capability to transmit arboviruses that form a potential threat to the Netherlands.
Both larval and adult stages of Culex pipiens, Aedes albopictus and Aedes japonicus (model systems for native and invasive mosquito species to the Netherlands) will be exposed to different environmental and climatic challenges in order to assess effects on virus transmission. More specifically, different temperature scenarios that reflect typical Dutch conditions as well as conditions present during unusual hot summers and mild, wet winters with increased night temperatures will be assessed. I will investigate how the mosquito’s immune system responds to these conditions and modulates vector competence by investigating (immune) gene expression in the mosquito.
This work is important for the public health preparedness. Once we know more about which mosquito species are better vectors for flaviviruses, we will be able to more specifically target those mosquitoes during vector control and therefore reduce the risk of spread of mosquito-borne diseases in the Netherlands.
Research questions / objectives
1) What is the effect of different summer regimes on the vector competence of Culex pipiens pipiens, Culex pipiens molestus, Aedes albopictus and Aedes japonicus mosquitoes for selected arboviruses (Table 1)?
2) If there are differences in vector competence between mosquito species, then what are the underlying mechanisms for this?
3) What is the effect of winter conditions on the vector competence of diapausing adult Culex pipiens biotypes?
4) What is the effect of environmental stress factors on larval development and vector competence of mosquito vectors? And what are the underlying mechanisms affecting vector competence?