Does male diet influence mosquito reproduction?

My latest publication has appeared in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association in December 2012. This paper reports on some biological experiments conducted by my PhD student Nur Abu Kassim. She was interested in investigating the role of diet (including how much food immature stages ate and if adult mosquitoes had access to sugar) on male mosquitoes and the resulting egg development by females.

Nur conducted her experiments using Culex molestus, this species is a member of the Culex pipiens group. This group of mosquitoes is important internationally as it contains species closely associated with the transmission of disease-causing pathogens, in particular West Nile virus. Culex molestus is an interesting species in that it can develop its first batch of eggs without a blood meal. You can read about our earlier studies here and here.

The results indicated that diet of male mosquitoes, both access to food in immature stages and access to sugar as adults, influenced the number of autogenous eggs and hatching rates of those eggs.

Here is the abstract:

Culex molestus is an obligatory autogenous mosquito that is closely associated with subterranean habitats in urban areas. The objective of our study was to investigate the influence of larval and adult nutrition on the role of males in determining the expression of autogeny in Cx. molestus. Mosquitoes raised at low and high larval diets had sex ratio, wing length, mating rates, autogenous egg raft size, and hatching rates recorded. There was a higher ratio of males to females when raised at a low larval diet. Mean wing lengths of both males and females were significantly greater when raised at the high larval diet regime. Regardless of larval or adult diet, males mated with only a single female. Mosquitoes raised at the higher larval diet regimes developed significantly more autogenous eggs. However, the egg raft size was reduced when adult females were denied access to sugar. The results of this study indicate that the performance of males in the reproductive process is influenced by both larval diet and adult sugar feeding.

Full reference:

Kassim NFA, Webb CE & Russell RC. 2012. The Importance of Males: Larval Diet and Adult Sugar Feeding Influences Reproduction in Culex molestus. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 28(4):312-316. online