Microbial ecology of mosquitos and ticks
Pinkham, Nicholas Vernon
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Host evolutionary history has been shown to select for distinct host associated microbial communities over large evolutionary time scales. The microbiomes of disease vector have been shown to alter the capacity of their host to vector pathogens. Much remains to be understood about how the microbiome of mosquitos and ticks assemble in situ. We conducted a large-scale investigation of microbiome composition between mosquito species as well as a second investigation of microbiomes of brown dog ticks collected in Iquitos, Peru. Intraspecific and interspecific bacterial community diversity was compared across 26 species of mosquitoes collected in Montana. Previous studies of lab reared mosquitoes report greater variation in microbial communities between species than within. Using 16S rRNA sequencing we observed a large amount of intraspecific variation in microbiomes, as well as different species hosting very similar microbiomes. The tick microbiome was found to be dominated by a few select community members that were seen at an extremely high abundance and resembled intracellular tick-borne pathogens. It is common for ticks to host endosymbionts that closely to human pathogens but are not pathogenic themselves. Negative interactions were seen between the most abundant organism observed in the ticks.