Blood meal source and mixed blood-feeding influence gut bacterial community composition in Aedes aegypti

Ephantus J. Muturi, Teresia M. Njoroge, Christopher Dunlap, Carla E. Cáceres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The guts of blood-sucking insects host a community of bacteria that can shift dramatically in response to biotic and abiotic factors. Identifying the key factors structuring these microbial communities has important ecological and epidemiological implications. Methods: We used the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, to investigate the impact of mixed blood meals on gut microbiota of vector mosquitoes. Adult females were experimentally fed on sugar or blood from chicken, rabbit or a mixture of chicken and rabbit blood, and their gut microbiota were characterized using 16S rRNA gene amplification and MiSeq sequencing. Results: The gut bacterial communities of mosquitoes fed on the three blood meal treatments clustered separately, suggesting that host species identity and mixed blood-feeding are key determinants of gut bacterial community composition in mosquitoes. Mixed blood meal had a synergistic effect on both operational taxonomic unit (OTU) richness and the Shannon diversity index, suggesting that mixed blood-feeding can offset the nutritional deficit of blood meals from certain host species. The microbial communities observed in this study were distinct from those identified from similarly fed Ae. aegypti from our previous study. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that vector host-feeding preferences can influence gut microbial composition and diversity, which could potentially impact pathogen acquisition and transmission by the vector. The results also demonstrate that different microenvironmental conditions within the laboratory may play an important role in structuring the microbial communities of independently reared mosquito colonies. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Aedes aegypti
  • Gut microbiota
  • MiSeq
  • Mixed blood-feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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