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Vector competence testing

Background

Mosquito species differ considerably in their ability to transmit pathogens of disease. For example, most mosquito species are unable to transmit the parasite that causes malaria, but certain species can transmit it efficiently under the right conditions. The ability of a mosquito to transmit a certain pathogen is known as its vector competence. Vector competence varies between species and individuals. It is also dependent on temperature;  the efficiency of transmission typically increases with temperature up to a maximum, which may be specific to the mosquito-pathogen relationship.

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A laboratory with mosquito cages
Mosquitoes inside a cage

Photos: Jean-Philippe Parvy.

We are rearing laboratory colonies of native mosquito species and we will experimentally test their ability to transmit three pathogens of emerging zoonotic concern in Europe (West Nile virus, Usutu virus and Sindbis virus) at typical Scottish temperatures. These experiments will be carried out under controlled bio-secure conditions at the MRC Centre for Virus Research in Glasgow. This will help us to assess whether mosquito-borne disease establishment is possible in Scotland under current conditions, and will allow us to predict the impact of climate change on disease transmission parameters.

Video: mosquitoes taking a blood meal in the laboratory. Credit: Jean-Philippe Parvy.

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