Temperature and density-dependent effects of larval environment on Aedes aegypti competence for an alphavirus



Mosquito larvae experience multiple environmental stressors that may modify how subsequent adults interact with pathogens. We evaluated the effect of larval rearing temperature and intraspecific larval competition on adult mosquito immunity and vector competence for Sindbis virus (SINV). Aedes aegypti larvae were reared at two intraspecific densities (150 and 300 larvae) at 20° C and 30° C and the adults were fed artificially on citrated bovine blood containing 105 plaque forming units of SINV. Expression of cecropin, defensin, and transferrin was also evaluated in one- and five-day-old female adults. There was a direct relationship between larval density and SINV infection and dissemination rates at low temperature (20° C) and an inverse relationship between larval density and SINV infection rate at high temperature (30° C). Cecropin was only expressed in five-day-old adults that were raised at high temperature as larvae and was 20-fold over-expressed at low compared to high density treatments. Defensin and transferrin were under-expressed in one-day-old adults and over-expressed in five-day-old adults in all competition-temperature combinations relative to low density treatments at 20° C. These findings suggest that interaction between biotic and abiotic conditions of the larval environment may alter adult mosquito immunity resulting in enhanced vector competence for arboviruses.