Larval temperature and nutrition alter the susceptibility of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to chikungunya virus Catherine J. Westbrook and L. Philip Lounibos Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, University of Florida, Vero Beach, FL, USA SUMMARY We report how variations in larval temperature and food quantity influence Ae. aegypti larval development time (Table 1) and mortality (Fig. A) and adult female size (Table 1) and susceptibility for CHIKV. We found that larval temperature, but not food quantity, nor the temperature X food level interaction, had a significant effect on chikungunya infection (Fig. C), but that temperature, food quantity, and the interaction had a significant effect on dissemination (Fig. D). We also measured wing length and CHIKV body titer from a subset of freshly engorged mosquitoes (Fig. B) from each temperature-food level treatment to determine if the amount of virus ingested from the infectious blood meal was correlated with mosquito body size. We found that wing length was positively correlated with the initial quantity of virus ingested, but significant wing length - infection correlations disappeared after the extrinsic incubation period. This study suggests that larval environmental variables are important in shaping vector-viral interactions and that mosquito size alone may not be a good predictor of viral susceptibility.


In the last five years chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has emerged as an important agent of human arboviral epidemics and one of the principle vectors in the outbreaks was Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito. Fluctuating temperatures and limited food are common features in the aquatic container habitats occupied by immature Ae. aegypti and have a strong influence on adult body size and may also influence vector-virus interactions.

PROCEDURE action A extr l® RN Trizo qRT-PCR

Aedes aegypti


1 Individually reared South Florida F1 Aedes aegypti

Larvae fed: 3.0 mg or 10.5 mg 1:1 yeast:albumin and Reared at: 20ºC, 27ºC or 34ºC

10 Day Extrinsic incubation period



Trizol® RNA ex tr qRT-PC action R

Mosquitoes given CHIKV blood meal (6.3 Log10 PFU/mL)

•development time •adult size


♀ Days egg to adult * (n) ♀ wing length (mm)# (n)









12a (487) 3.34±0.02a (116)

13b (467) 3.67±0.02b (60)

6.5c (391) 3.03±0.02c (90)

6.5c (477) 3.28±0.01d (91)

5.5d (492) 2.7±0.02e (33)

6.0e (449) 2.87±0.02f (58)

Proportion infected


*H= 2322.46; df = 5; P <0.0001 , # F = 261.56; df = 5; P<0.0001

Proportion of dead larvae among six treatments (N = 6, temperature-food combinations)


Positive leg = dissemination % disseminated =# pos. legs /# pos. bodies

Proportion of mosquitoes positive for CHIKV in body by larval temperature

Temperature and food treatment medians and means for female development time to adulthood and wing length. Within a measured variable different letters denote significance. Temperature Food level

Positive body = infection % infected= # pos. bodies /# engorged



• larval mortality


Correlation analysis of natural log of CHIKV whole mosquito titers and wing lengths for freshly engorges females

χ2=26.0248, df = 2, P<0.0001 χ2=26.0248, df = 2, P<0.0001


0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0 20°C



Larval rearing temperature * 27°C significantly different from other two temperatures




Low 20°C

High 20°C

Low 27°C

High 27°C

Low 34°C

High 34°C

Food Level Temperature

*Treatment 6 significantly different from 1-5 (χ2 = 39.67, df = 5, P<0.0001)




Proportion disseminated



Proportion of mosquitoes with disseminated CHIKV infections by larval temperature and food level

* Natural Log (whole m osquito titer)

Proportion of dead larvae




r = 0.5787, P<0.0001 7.5

0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0

7 2







Wing Length





Low 20°C

Low 27°C

High * 20°C


High 27°C

Low 34°C

High 34°C


Food Level * Temperature *Temperature (χ2=8.7265, df = 2, P<0.0127),#Food level (χ2=5.0123, df = 1, P<0.0252), Interaction (χ2= 6.9914, df = 1, P<0.0303)

Larval temperature and nutrition alter the susceptibility ...

(58). Temperature and food treatment medians and means for female development time to adulthood and wing length. Within a measured variable different letters denote significance. *H= 2322.46; df = 5; P <0.0001 , # F = 261.56; df = 5; P<0.0001. Correlation analysis of natural log of CHIKV whole mosquito titers and wing ...

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