Researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna for the first time collected quantified data on hybrid forms of two species of the northern house mosquito in eastern Austria. The reproductive hybrid feeds – in contrast to the two known species of house mosquito – on the blood of both birds and humans. Hybrid mosquitoes could therefore serve as a vector for the transmission of avian diseases to people. Identification of the three forms is only possible through molecular biology. Morphologically they are indistinct. The study was published in the journal Parasites & Vectors.
The team of researchers from the Institute of Parasitology at Vetmeduni Vienna sampled nearly 1,500 house mosquitoes in eastern Austria. The northern house mosquito Culex pipiens, representing more than 90% of the total catch, was the most abundant.
Culex pipiens comprises a complex of ecologically different forms that are morphologically indistinct. Two of these forms are endemic to eastern Austria. First author of the study Carina Zittra has now succeeded in identifying a hybrid of these two forms.
Hybrid of ecological forms with different preferences
By far the most common ecological form collected was Culex pipiens f. pipiens. This form prefers to feed on avian blood, reproduces in mating swarms and requires a blood meal as a protein supplement before the first egg-laying. It also hibernates. The second ecological form, Culex pipiens f. molestus, prefers the blood of mammals including humans. It reproduces through single mating, does not require an initial blood meal and does not hibernate. This mammalophilic form of the house mosquito can therefore bite in the winter as well.
“The hybrid form identified by us is a natural hybrid of these two house mosquito forms,” says Zittra. Further studies are needed to determine which of these different lifestyles the hybrid prefers. However, the researchers do not expect the hybrid to show such a clear blood preference as the two common forms of Culex pipiens.
Hybrids could serve as bridge vectors
When mosquitoes feed, they don’t only suck blood. They can also transmit exotic diseases such as the West Nile virus. Migratory birds are one way these diseases can come to Austria. A transmission from bird to mammal is unlikely, however, as long as mosquitoes such as the ornithophilic Culex pipiens f. pipens remain loyal to their respective source of blood.
According to Zittra, however, the newly discovered hybrids are known not to have a clear preference for the blood of just one type of animal. This raises the possibility that they could become so-called bridge vectors. That means that the hybrid picks up a pathogen from its original host, the bird, and may transmit it to other birds or other species such as humans.
The frequency of hybrids is currently rather low. “We should not disregard the possible presence of hybrid forms in future screenings, however, especially as the hybrids are capable of reproducing,” Zittra adds.
Minimizing the mosquito population
House mosquitos only need a source of standing water for egg-laying, such as plant and flower water or water that has collected in the rain barrel or a toy in the garden. Reservoirs like these should be regularly emptied and care should be taken to prevent standing water or wet areas in order to eliminate potential mosquito breeding habitat.
Zittra also has a valuable tip regarding UV lamps as mosquito traps. “Mosquitoes find their victims by sensing the carbon dioxide released from breath, body temperature and sweat. They are not attracted to light sources – after all, they also bite at night. UV lamps therefore don’t offer much help, except that they attract other, useful insects.”
The article “Ecological characterization and molecular differentiation of Culex pipiens complex taxa and Culex torrentium in Eastern Austria“ by Carina Zittra, Eva Flechl, Michael Kothmayer, Simon Vitecek, Heidemarie Rossiter, Thomas Zechmeister and Hans-Peter Fuehrer was published in the journal Parasites & Vectors veröffentlicht. doi: 10.1186/s13071-016-1495-4
About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at
Institute of Parasitology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-2205
Science Communication / Corporate Communications
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1165
Mag.rer.nat Georg Mair | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University
Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering