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
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences