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New paper now out in Scientific Reports!

Forde's new paper on sugar feeding has been published in Scientific Reports! Forde worked with two undergrads, Mik (supported by the VT-REEL program) and Vansh to determine what species invasive mosquito species feed on in the lab and in the wild. Spoiler alert: they feed on a large variety of plants including ornamental and wild which may even include trees and shrubs!

Abstract: Feeding on plant-derived sugars is an essential component of mosquito biology, affecting key aspects of their lives such as survival, metabolism, and reproduction. Among mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are two invasive mosquito species in the US, and are vectors of diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika. These species live in heavily populated, urban areas, where they have high accessibility to human hosts as well as to plants in backyards and public landscapes. However, the range of plants that are suitable sugar hosts for these species remains to be described, despite the importance of understanding what plants may attract or repel mosquitoes to inform citizens and municipal authorities accordingly. Here, we tested whether Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus would sugar-feed on eleven commonly planted ornamental plant species. We confirmed feeding activity using the anthrone method and identified the volatile composition of plant headspace using gas-chromatography mass-spectroscopy. These chemical analyses revealed that a broad range of olfactory cues are associated with plants that mosquitoes feed on. This prompted us to use plant DNA barcoding to identify plants that field-caught mosquitoes feed on. Altogether, results show that native and invasive mosquito species can exploit a broader range of plants than originally suspected, including wild and ornamental plants from different phyla throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons.


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