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Mol Ecol Resour. 2009 Jan;9(1):4-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2008.02469.x.

Molecular methods for arthropod bloodmeal identification and applications to ecological and vector-borne disease studies.

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Arbovirus Diseases Branch, Division of Vector-borne and Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3150 Rampart Road, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA.


DNA-based methods have greatly enhanced the sensitivity and specificity of hematophagous arthropod bloodmeal identification. A variety of methods have been applied to study the blood-feeding behaviour of mosquitoes, ticks, black flies and other blood-feeding arthropods as it relates to host-parasite interactions and pathogen transmission. Overviews of the molecular techniques used for bloodmeal identification, their advantages, disadvantages and applications are presented for DNA sequencing, group-specific polymerase chain reaction primers, restriction fragment length polymorphism, real-time polymerase chain reaction, heteroduplex analysis, reverse line-blot hybridization and DNA profiling. Technical challenges to bloodmeal identification including digestion and analysis of mixed bloodmeals are discussed. Analysis of bloodmeal identification results remains a challenge to the field, particularly with regard to incorporation of vertebrate census and ecology data. Future research directions for molecular analysis of arthropod bloodmeals are proposed.

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