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PeerJ. 2015 May 5;3:e938. doi: 10.7717/peerj.938. eCollection 2015.

Blood serum and BSA, but neither red blood cells nor hemoglobin can support vitellogenesis and egg production in the dengue vector Aedes aegypti.

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Department of Biology, New Mexico State University , Las Cruces, NM , USA.
Department of Biology, New Mexico State University , Las Cruces, NM , USA ; Institute for Applied Biosciences, New Mexico State University , Las Cruces, NM , USA ; Molecular Biology Program, New Mexico State University , Las Cruces, NM , USA.


Aedes aegypti is the major vector of dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya viruses that put millions of people in endemic countries at risk. Mass rearing of this mosquito is crucial for strategies that use modified insects to reduce vector populations and transmission of pathogens, such as sterile insect technique or population replacement. A major problem for vector mosquito mass rearing is the requirement of vertebrate blood for egg production since it poses significant costs as well as potential health hazards. Also, regulations for human and animal use as blood source can pose a significant obstacle. A completely artificial diet that supports egg production in vector mosquitoes can solve this problem. In this study, we compared different blood fractions, serum and red blood cells, as dietary protein sources for mosquito egg production. We also tested artificial diets made from commercially available blood proteins (bovine serum albumin (BSA) and hemoglobin). We found that Ae. aegypti performed vitellogenesis and produced eggs when given whole bovine blood, serum, or an artificial diet containing BSA. Conversely, egg production was impaired after feeding of the red blood cell fraction or an artificial diet containing only hemoglobin. We also found that egg viability of serum-fed mosquitoes were comparable to that of whole blood and an iron supplemented BSA meal produced more viable eggs than a meal containing BSA alone. Our results indicate that serum proteins, not hemoglobin, may replace vertebrate blood in artificial diets for mass mosquito rearing.


Aedes aegypti; Artificial blood meal; Egg development; Mass rearing; Mosquito culture; Vitellogenesis

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