A cytogenetic map for the genomic studies of the West Nile Virus vector Culex tarsalis

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Virginia Tech


Culex tarsalis is a major vector of West Nile Virus (WNV) in North America. Although the genome for this species was recently sequenced, the physical genome map has not developed. Unlike other Culex species, that have sex-determination locus on chromosome 1, the sex locus in Cx. tarsalis is located on chromosome 3, the longest chromosome. It is currently unknown if this difference is associated with chromosomal rearrangements. The objectives of this study were to develop a high-resolution map for the precise physical genome mapping in Cx. tarsalis and to compare mitotic chromosomes between three species of Culicinae mosquitoes. Using mitotic chromosomes from imaginal discs of 4th instar larvae of Cx. tarsalis, we developed idiograms based on morphology and proportions of the mitotic chromosomes. In addition, the physical mapping of ribosomal genes using fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed.

The comparative analysis of Cx. tarsalis to Cx. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus chromosomes showed that the total chromosome length in Cx. tarsalis is longer than the other two species suggesting the bigger genome size in this mosquito. A comparison of the relative chromosome length between the species indicated no significant differences suggesting that no large chromosomal translocation occurred between the species. Comparisons of the centromeric indexes demonstrated a significant difference in chromosome 1 between Cx. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus. This difference suggests the presence of pericentric inversion between the species or amplification of ribosomal genes in Cx. pipiens. Studying mosquito chromosomes advances our understanding of Culex cytogenetics. Further comparative physical mapping of the three major mosquito genera will help us to understand the evolution of genus Culex better and to develop genome-based strategies for the vector control.



mitotic chromosomes, genome mapping, mosquitoes, Culex tarsalis