Vector competence of Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae) for West Nile virus isolates from Florida

Stephanie L. Richards, Sheri L. Anderson, Cynthia C. Lord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: To assess vector competence (infection, dissemination and transmission) of Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus for Florida (FL) West Nile virus (WNV) isolates. Methods: West Nile virus isolates (WN-FL-03: NY99 genotype; WN-FL-05-558, WN-FL-05-2186, WN-FL-05-510: WN02 genotype) collected from different regions of FL were used for vector competence experiments in Cx. p. quinquefasciatus from Alachua County and Indian River County in FL. Mosquitoes from both colonies were fed blood containing 7.9 ± 0.2 log10 plaque-forming units WNV/ml ± SE and incubated at 28 °C for 14 days. Vector competence, including rates of infection, dissemination, and transmission, was compared between colonies for WN-FL-03 using chi-squared. Virus titres in bodies, legs and saliva were compared using anova. Daily measurements of in vitro replication of WNV isolates were evaluated in Vero cells so that a standardised virus dose for each isolate could be delivered to mosquitoes. Results: Infection and dissemination rates were high (≥95%) and not affected by isolate or colony (infection, P = 0.679; dissemination, P = 0.799). Transmission rates were low (≤20%), detected in one colony and affected by isolate (P = 0.008). Body and leg titres differed between isolates (body titre, P = 0.031; leg titre, P = 0.044) and colonies (body titre, P = 0.001; leg titre, P = 0.013) while saliva titre did not differ between isolates (P = 0.462). Conclusions: Variation in vector competence of mosquito populations may be attributed, in part, to exposures to WNV with genetic differences leading to different rates of replication in mosquitoes. Evaluation of vector competence for different WNV isolates may help us understand vector-virus interactions and, hence, the role of vectors in complex virus transmission cycles in nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-617
Number of pages8
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Culex
  • Florida
  • Vector competence
  • West Nile virus


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