Background: Most female mosquitoes are anautogenous and must blood feed on a vertebrate host to produce eggs. Prior studies show that the number of eggs females lay per clutch correlates with the volume of blood ingested and that protein is the most important macronutrient for egg formation. In contrast, how whole blood, blood fractions and specific blood proteins from different vertebrates affect egg formation is less clear. Since egg formation is best understood in Aedes aegypti, we examined how blood and blood components from different vertebrates affect this species and two others: the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae and arbovirus vector Culex quinquefasciatus.
Methods: Adult female mosquitoes were fed blood, blood fractions and purified major blood proteins from different vertebrate hosts. Markers of reproductive response including ovary ecdysteroidogenesis, yolk deposition into oocytes and number of mature eggs produced were measured.
Results: Ae. aegypti, An. gambiae and C. quinquefasciatus responded differently to meals of whole blood, plasma or blood cells from human, rat, chicken and turkey hosts. We observed more similarities between the anthropophiles Ae. aegypti and An. gambiae than the ornithophile C. quinquefasciatus. Focusing on Ae. aegypti, the major plasma-derived proteins (serum albumin, fibrinogen and globulins) differentially stimulated egg formation as a function of vertebrate host source. The major blood cell protein, hemoglobin, stimulated yolk deposition when from pigs but not humans, cows or sheep. Serum albumins from different vertebrates also variably affected egg formation. Bovine serum albumin (BSA) stimulated ovary ecdysteroidogenesis, but more weakly induced digestive enzyme activities than whole blood. In contrast, BSA-derived peptides and free amino acids had no stimulatory effects on ecdysteroidogenesis or yolk deposition into oocytes.
Conclusions: Whole blood, blood fractions and specific blood proteins supported egg formation in three species of anautogenous mosquitoes but specific responses varied with the vertebrate source of the blood components tested.
Harrison, R.E., Brown, M.R. & Strand, M.R. Whole blood and blood components from vertebrates differentially affect egg formation in three species of anautogenous mosquitoes. Parasites Vectors 14, 119 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-021-04594-9