Mosquitoes push northern limits with time-capsule eggs to survive winters

phys.org | 4/23/2019 | Staff
samtetley (Posted by) Level 3
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When the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) arrived in the United States in the 1980s, it took the invasive blood-sucker only one year to spread from Houston to St. Louis. New research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that the mosquitoes at the northern limit of their current range are successfully using time-capsule-like eggs to survive conditions that are colder than those in its native territory.

The northern mosquitoes have adapted to colder winters, compared to their southern counterparts. This new evidence of rapid local adaptation could have implications for efforts to control the spread of this invasive species, which is considered a "competent vector" of numerous pathogens that are relevant to humans, including Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses. The work is published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Period - Years - Kim - Medley - Director

"This all happened within a period of 30 years," said biologist Kim Medley, director of Tyson Research Center and first author of the new study. "This disease vector has evolved rapidly to adapt to the United States. The fact that this has occurred at a range limit may suggest that there is potential for the species to continue to creep farther northward."

Mosquitoes respond to the shortening days signaling winter's onset by laying diapause eggs— literally, delayed development eggs. These special eggs contain a fertilized embryo that's in a state of almost-hibernation and has a very slow metabolism. The result is almost like a mosquito time capsule.

Ability - Eggs - Something - Technique - Mosquitoes

The ability to produce eggs that can wait to hatch is not something new. This technique helps mosquitoes survive the winter cold, but it works for dry conditions as well. All mosquitoes lay their eggs in or near standing water, and the larvae need to hatch into standing water. But they can survive getting dried out in between.

Still, diapause eggs are different...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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