Effects of La Crosse virus infection on the host-seeking behavior and levels of two neurotransmitters in Aedes triseriatus

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Background La Crosse virus (LACV) infection has been shown to manipulate the blood-feeding behaviors of its main vector, Aedes triseriatus. Here, we investigated the effects of virus infection on serotonin and dopamine and their potential roles in host-seeking. In mosquitoes, serotonin depletion has been shown to interfere with blood-feeding but not host-seeking. Dopamine depletion does not affect either blood-feeding or host-seeking; elevations of dopamine, however, has been shown to inhibit host-seeking. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of LACV infection on the host-seeking behavior of and neurotransmitter levels in Ae. triseriatus.

Methods Host-seeking behavior was evaluated using a uni-port olfactometer and a membrane feeder assay. Levels of serotonin and dopamine in infected and control mosquito heads were measured using HPLC-ED.

Results Infection with LACV significantly inhibited the activation and attraction of Ae. triseriatus females to a host. A higher proportion of uninfected Ae. triseriatus females were activated by the presence of a host compared to infected mosquitoes and more uninfected mosquitoes were full responders (95.7%) compared to infected ones (91.1%). However, infection with LACV did not significantly affect the landing, probing, or blood-feeding rates of female mosquitoes. LACV-infected mosquitoes had lower serotonin levels than controls (104.5 vs 138.3 pg/head) while the dopamine levels were not affected by infection status (282.3 vs 237 pg/head).

Conclusions Our work suggests that virus-induced reduction of serotonin is related to previously reported blood-feeding alterations in LACV-infected mosquitoes and could lead to enhanced transmission and increased vectorial capacity. In addition, some aspects of host-seeking were inhibited by virus infection.

Parasites & Vectors. 2019 Aug 09;12(1):397