Culex pipiens and Culex restuans larval interactions shape the bacterial communities in container aquatic habitats

Teresia M Njoroge, May R Berenbaum, Christopher M Stone, Chang-Hyun Kim, Christopher Dunlap, Ephantus J Muturi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Container aquatic habitats host a community of aquatic insects, primarily mosquito larvae that browse on container surface microbial biofilm and filter-feed on microorganisms in the water column. We examined how the bacterial communities in these habitats respond to feeding by larvae of two container-dwelling mosquito species, Culex pipiens and Cx. restuans. We also investigated how the microbiota of these larvae is impacted by intra- and interspecific interactions. Microbial diversity and richness were significantly higher in water samples when mosquito larvae were present, and in Cx. restuans compared to Cx. pipiens larvae. Microbial communities of water samples clustered based on the presence or absence of mosquito larvae and were distinct from those of mosquito larvae. Culex pipiens and Cx. restuans larvae harbored distinct microbial communities when reared under intraspecific conditions and similar microbial communities when reared under interspecific conditions. These findings demonstrate that mosquito larvae play a major role in structuring the microbial communities in container habitats and that intra- and interspecific interactions in mosquito larvae may shape their microbiota. This has important ecological and public health implications since larvae of the two mosquito species are major occupants of container habitats while the adults are vectors of West Nile virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberxtae002
JournalFEMS Microbes
Early online dateFeb 12 2024
StatePublished - 2024


  • larvae
  • microbiota
  • container aquatic habitats
  • Culex restuans
  • Culex pipiens


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