An Improved Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Assay for the Identification of Mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) Blood Meals


The analysis of vertebrate blood meals serves as an integral component of vector incrimination studies where feeding preferences and host associations influence vector-borne disease transmission. Diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based techniques have been widely used to determine host associations, yet applications for Culex (Diptera: Culicidae), which feed primarily on bird populations, have been limited by multistep PCR techniques that approach each potential host species singly. As a result, we have developed a multiplexed primer set targeting mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences that can distinguish human, bird, and mammalian host blood meals in a single PCR reaction, an improvement over previous analyses relying on single primers or other multiplex primer approaches through the inclusion of avian primers. To validate this new methodology, we demonstrate its application on blood samples as well as field-collected Culex samples. Although designed for applications with mosquito vectors, this multiplex PCR assay is not mosquito-specific, and should serve as a valuable tool for identifying the blood meals of other blood-feeding arthropods, contributing greatly to the study of vector-borne disease.

Publication Title

Journal of Medical Entomology