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Keywords:

  • bloodmeal;
  • DNA barcoding;
  • heteroduplex analysis;
  • microsatellites;
  • PCR;
  • RFLP

Abstract

DNA-based methods have greatly enhanced the sensitivity and specificity of hematophagous arthropod bloodmeal identification. A variety of methods have been applied to study the blood-feeding behaviour of mosquitoes, ticks, black flies and other blood-feeding arthropods as it relates to host–parasite interactions and pathogen transmission. Overviews of the molecular techniques used for bloodmeal identification, their advantages, disadvantages and applications are presented for DNA sequencing, group-specific polymerase chain reaction primers, restriction fragment length polymorphism, real-time polymerase chain reaction, heteroduplex analysis, reverse line-blot hybridization and DNA profiling. Technical challenges to bloodmeal identification including digestion and analysis of mixed bloodmeals are discussed. Analysis of bloodmeal identification results remains a challenge to the field, particularly with regard to incorporation of vertebrate census and ecology data. Future research directions for molecular analysis of arthropod bloodmeals are proposed.