Manitoba researchers discover 17 new viruses in mosquitoes

Manitoba researchers discover 17 new viruses in mosquitoes
Manitoba researchers discover 17 new viruses in mosquitoes

Researchers at Brandon University in Manitoba have discovered 17 previously unknown viruses by analyzing the microbiomes of 35,000 mosquitoes. They also found known pathogens, including Cache Valley arbovirus.

The researchers, former master’s student Cole Baril and biology professor Bryan Cassone, are therefore encouraging municipal and provincial governments to expand their surveillance programs for mosquito-borne diseases.

The conclusions of the study, Metatranscriptomic analysis of common mosquito vector species in the Canadian Prairies, (New window) were published on the journal’s website mSphereof the’Amerian Society for Microbiologylast week.

Sorting 35,000 mosquitoes

Between 2019 and 2021, the researchers sorted and analyzed about 35,000 mosquitoes. That’s only about 10 percent of all the mosquitoes they caught.

They came partly from traps set by the researchers, as the study’s lead author, Cole Baril, explains. Essentially, the device emits carbon dioxide, which attracts mosquitoes because it indicates that there is life present, with blood.he explains.

The traps were primarily set in southwestern Manitoba. The City of Winnipeg also provided specimens from its traps.

We then group the mosquitoes according to species, location and date of capture.continues Mr. Baril. We put the mosquitoes in a tube, we crush them […] and this allows us to extract the genetic material.

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Cole Baril sorts mosquitoes in a lab.

Photo : Cole Baril

This includes the instructions for how a mosquito is built, but also the genetic material of all kinds of microorganisms in those mosquitoes.

Sequencing this genetic material, using a technology called next generation sequencing or high throughput sequencingallows small fragments of DNA to be obtained.

An algorithm uses current scientific knowledge about DNA to assemble these small fragments into longer fragments. These longer fragments are then compared to the DNA databasecontinues Cole Baril.

Does this piece of DNA belong to a mosquito? Does this piece of DNA belong to a virus? Does this piece of DNA belong to a bacteria? This allows us to filter and analyze the genetic material further.he adds.

The researchers believe their study is a first of its kind in Canada. Previous studies looked at the microorganisms present in one mosquito at a time. As such, they studied only a few hundred specimens.

66 virus

The researchers identified the genetic material of 66 viruses, the majority of which are viruses that only infect mosquitoes. However, some of the viruses they found can also infect other animals or humans.

The virus Flanders hapavirusfor example, infects mosquitoes that like to feed on the blood of birds and Canada geese.

This particular virus is an example of how this study could support surveillance measures.says Cole Baril.

Another study determined that this virus appears in mosquito populations about two weeks before the peak of West Nile virus transmission. [NDLR, à l’origine d’une maladie grave chez l’humain]. This could give surveillance programs a warning that there will be more West Nile virus in the coming weeks, and surveillance could be increased, or public health advisories issued.explains the researcher.

The researchers also discovered a case of thearboviruses of Cache Valley, which is part of a group of mosquito-to-human diseases that originated in California.

years”,”text”:”This is the first detection of this virus in Manitoba in 20 years”}}”>This is the first detection of the virus in Manitoba in 20 years.says Cole Baril.

Currently, Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg are not monitoring this virus. Maybe we should start monitoring these viruses that are capable of causing disease in humans, because we now know they are present.he continues.

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Cole Baril with the “World’s Largest Mosquito” statue in Komarno, Manitoba.

Photo : Cole Baril

A total of 49 of the 66 viruses were already known. Seventeen were previously completely unknown to science. Researchers do not know whether these are viruses that are transmitted between species, or whether they only affect mosquitoes.

However, there is no reason to worry, according to Cole Baril.

This was the first large-scale study in Canada where we sequenced the mosquito [Aedes vexans]so it makes sense that so many new viruses have been found, simply because no one has looked for them yet.he said.

Associate professor of entomology at the University of Manitoba Kateryn Rochon points out that talks a lot about the microbiome, but [qu’]There’s really no one who’s looked at the mosquito microbiomeduring an interview on the show Current.

[new viruses]is potentially 17new biological control methods”,”text”:”Is it mosquitoes that make mosquitoes sick? Because if it’s something that makes mosquitoes sick, we can use it to control insects. So [ces 17nouveaux virus] This is potentially 17 new means of biological control”}}”>Is it mosquitoes that make mosquitoes sick? Because if it’s something that makes mosquitoes sick, we can use it to control insects. So [ces 17 nouveaux virus] This is potentially 17 new means of biological controlshe says. Yes, it is news that attracts attention, but above all it is the beginning of something.

Parasites for all

Mosquitoes also carried other kinds of pathogens, including avian malaria. Nearly all mosquitoes of species that like to feed on bird blood carried the protozoan that causes this disease that affects birds.

The concern is that birds that have not been exposed to avian malaria may be at risk because they have not had the opportunity to develop immune strategies to fight the parasite.summarizes Cole Baril.

So as climate change pushes mosquito populations north, this could pose risks to birds, such as penguins.

Our study has somewhat identified this missing link, the transmission of avian malaria by mosquitoes.notes the researcher.

The researchers also identified the parasite that causes heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) in dogs, and the black queen cell virus. Prior to this study, the latter disease had only been identified in bees.

This latest discovery is fascinating for an entomologist like Kateryn Rochon. It reminds us that mosquitoes feed on nectar, like bees. It is therefore possible that mosquitoes play a role in the transmission of this disease feared by beekeepers.

This discovery gave rise to another scientific article by the same authors. It was published in the journal Journal of Insect Sciencein March 2023 (New window).

With information from Jérémy Laniel

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