Study examines bacteria that live in and on mosquitoes – Zoo House News
It’s always a good idea to avoid mosquitoes to protect against bites. But a new study from North Carolina State University shows that the bacteria-infested exterior of mosquitoes could be another reason to arm yourself with a swatter.
The first study of its kind, published in PLOS ONE, examined both the external surface and internal microbiome of mosquitoes found in homes in Africa’s Ivory Coast.
“When you’re exposed to mosquitoes, you worry about the blood supply,” said R. Michael Roe, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State and co-corresponding author of the study. “Our hypothesis is that mosquitoes can physically transmit bacteria by landing on you or by attaching themselves to household surfaces like flies do.
“Possibly not, but nobody has studied it before.”
Researchers at the Center Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques collected 79 adult female Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes from homes in a rice-producing province in Ivory Coast. The mosquitoes were sent to the state of NC for analysis of the microbiome inside and on external body surfaces.
Some of the results were surprising.
“We found greater bacterial diversity internally than externally, which was inconsistent with what was found in blowflies, for example,” said Loganathan Ponnusamy, a senior research scientist in NC state entomology and a co-author of the paper.
“At the same time, we found many external bacterial differences between houses, but not many internal differences between houses, which makes sense.
The researchers also found — for the first time in the academic literature — Fructobacillus commonly found in nectar sources such as flowers and beehives, indicating mosquitoes visiting these plants or nectar sources, said Kaiying Chen, an NC state postdoctoral researcher and first author of the paper .
Perhaps even more ominously, the researchers also found large amounts of Staphylococcus and two variants of Rickettsia. The genus of these bacteria is associated with human and animal diseases.
“That’s another risk,” Roe said. “Mosquitoes carry bacteria both outside and inside and come into your home where they may transmit pathogenic bacteria.”
The researchers hope to continue the work by exposing mosquitoes to a bacterium that would never be found on human skin and seeing if the bacterium transfers to an artificial membrane. You could then do the same test on human arms.
NC State Ph.D. Researchers Chouaïbou S. Mouhamadou and Jean M. Deguenon were co-authors of the article, as were Behi Kouadio Fodjo, Gba Christabelle Sadia and France Paraaudie Kouadio Affoue from the Center Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa. Funding was provided by a US Army Department grant under the Deployed Warfighter Protection (DWFP) program W911QY1910003.
Materials provided by North Carolina State University. Originally written by Mick Kulikowski. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.