Avoiding mosquitoes to protect yourself from bites is always a good idea. But a new study from North Carolina State University shows that a mosquito’s bacteria-ridden exterior may be another reason to arm yourself with a fly swatter.
The first study of its kind, published in PLUS ONEexamined both the outer surface and the inner microbiome of mosquitoes found in homes in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa, Côte d’Ivoire.
“When you’re exposed to mosquitoes, you worry about blood feeding,” said R. Michael Roe, the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State and a co-author of the study. “Our hypothesis is that mosquitoes can physically transfer bacteria by landing on you or by defecating on household surfaces, much like flies do.
“Maybe not, but no one has studied it before.”
Research collaborators from the Center Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques collected 79 adult females Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes from households in a rice-producing province in Côte d’Ivoire. The mosquitoes were sent to NC State for microbiome analysis on the interior and external body surfaces.
Some of the findings were surprising.
“We found greater internal than external bacterial diversity, which was not consistent with what had been found with blowflies, for example,” said Loganathan Ponnusamy, NC State principal investigator in entomology and a co-author on the paper.
“At the same time, we found many external bacterial differences between homes, but not much difference internally between homes, which makes sense. Much of what is found internally relates to nectar or honey consumed when mosquitoes feed. outdoor”.
The researchers also found, for the first time in the academic literature, fructobacillus, which is typically found in nectar sources such as flowers and beehives, pointing to mosquitoes that visit those plants or nectar sources, said Kaiying Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State and first author of the article.
Perhaps most sinister, the researchers also found large amounts of Staphylococcus and two variants of Rickettsia. Genera of these bacteria are associated with human and animal diseases.
“This is another risk,” Roe said. “Mosquitoes carry bacteria externally and internally and enter your home, possibly transferring 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 is transferred to an artificial membrane. They could then perform the same test on human arms.
North Carolina 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 Paraudie Kouadio Affoue of the Center Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Africa. Funding was provided by a Department of the Army grant under Deployed Warfare Protection Program (DWFP) Grant W911QY1910003.
Materials provided by North Carolina State University. Original written by Mick Kulikowski. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.