Genetic variation associated with mammalian feeding in Culex pipiens from a West Nile virus epidemic region in Chicago, Illinois. Academic Article uri icon


  • Mosquitoes of the Culex pipiens complex are important vectors of West Nile virus in the United States. We examined the genetic variations of Cx. pipiens mosquitoes from Chicago, Illinois that were determined to be principally ornithophilic but exhibited a relatively higher inclination for mammalian hosts including humans. Microsatellite analysis of 10 polymorphic markers was performed on 346 engorged Cx. pipiens specimens with identified avian or mammalian blood meals. Our results indicated that there were no significant differences in allelic richness, the pattern of conformity to Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and linkage disequilibrium, nor was there overall genetic differentiation between specimens with avian- and mammalian-derived blood meals. However, Cx. pipiens form pipiens with mammalian- (including human-) derived blood meals had significantly higher ancestry (p < 0.001) and proportion of hybrids (p < 0.01) from the Cx. pipiens form molestus (population from New York City) than did those with avian-derived blood meals. By contrast, there were no significant differences in the ancestry (p > 0.05) and the proportion of hybrids (p > 0.05) from Cx. quinquefasciatus (population from Harris Country, Texas). No temporal genetic variation was detected in accordance with the observation that there was no shift in blood feeding from birds to mammals. The results of this study in conjunction with regional host-feeding behavior suggest that the probability of genetic ancestry from Cx. pipiens f. molestus may predispose mosquitoes to feed more readily on mammals; however, the genetic mechanisms are unknown.

published proceedings

  • Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis

author list (cited authors)

  • Huang, S., Hamer, G. L., Molaei, G., Walker, E. D., Goldberg, T. L., Kitron, U. D., & Andreadis, T. G.

citation count

  • 58

complete list of authors

  • Huang, Shaoming||Hamer, Gabriel L||Molaei, Goudarz||Walker, Edward D||Goldberg, Tony L||Kitron, Uriel D||Andreadis, Theodore G

publication date

  • December 2009