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MUNDIS, RYANSpatial variation in the frequency of knockdown resistance genotypes in Florida Aedes aegypti populations

Stephanie J. Mundis, Alden S. Estep, Christy M. Waits, & Sadie J. Ryan

Article first published online: 11 MAY 2020 Parasites & Vectors

DOI: 10.1186/s13071-020-04112-3


The development of insecticide resistance in disease-vectoring mosquito species can lead to vector control failure and disease resurgence. However, insecticide applications remain an essential public health intervention. In Florida, insecticide resistance in Aedes aegypti, an anthropophilic mosquito species capable of transmitting dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus, is a major concern. Understanding the location, scale, and driving factors of insecticide resistance can enhance the ability of vector control organizations to target populations effectively.

We used previously collected data on frequencies of mutations that confer resistance to commonly used pyrethroid insecticides in Ae. aegypti specimens from 62 sites distributed across 18 counties in Florida. To determine the scale of clustering for the most resistant variant, we used a Ripley’s K function. We also used a spatial scanning statistic technique to identify locations of clusters where higher than expected frequencies of susceptible or resistant mosquitoes occurred. We then tested for associations between landscape, demographic, and insecticide-use factors using a beta regression modelling approach and evaluated the effect of spatial lag and spatial error terms on overall explanatory power of these models.

The scale at which maximum clustering of the most resistant variant occurs is approximately 20 kilometers. We identified statistically significant clusters of genotypes associated with resistance in several coastal cities, although some of these clusters were near significant clusters of susceptible mosquitoes, indicating selection pressures vary at the local scale. Vegetation density, distance from roads, and pyrethroid-use by vector control districts were consistently significant predictors of knockdown resistance genotype frequency in the top-performing beta regression models, although pyrethroid use surprisingly had a negatively associated with resistance. The incorporation of spatial lags resulted in improvements to the fit and explanatory power of the models, indicating an underlying diffusion process likely explains some of the spatial patterns observed.

The genetic mutations that confer resistance to pyrethroids in Ae. aegypti mosquitoes in Florida exhibit spatial autocorrelation and patterns that can be partially explained by landscape and insecticide-use factors. Further work at local scales should be able to identify the mechanisms by which these variables influence selection for alleles associated with resistance.

Read the full publication at Parasites & Vectors






GAINESVILLE – In the battle against vector borne disease, mosquito control using insecticides is an essential tool. But what happens when that tool starts to fail, and how do you know it? Insecticides are regularly used by public health agencies to reduce populations of blood-sucking mosquitoes. Effective control programs are important to public health because, in addition to posing a nuisance, mosquitoes can also spread diseases to humans. Insecticide resistance, where mosquitoes adapt to survive exposure to commonly-used chemicals, has become an increasingly pressing issue for many health agencies, undermining mosquito control efforts. New research by the Quantitative Disease Ecology and Conservation (QDEC) Lab Group at the University of Florida, the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL) at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), the Institute for Global Health and Translational Science at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL), and the Universidad Técnica de Machala is the first attempt to investigate seasonal and geographic variations of mosquito insecticide resistance in southern coastal Ecuador, a region where mosquito control is key to stopping the spread of serious diseases like Zika and dengue fever. The study was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The team of researchers used both genetic screening and pesticide assays to evaluate insecticide resistance in mosquitoes collected in urban locations at different seasons. Differences in the resistance status of mosquitoes to the insecticides commonly used by the local health ministry were found both across collection seasons and across the four cities in the study area. Detected resistance to Malathion, deltamethrin, and alpha-cypermethrin was particularly high in the port city of Machala, which has a long history of dengue outbreaks and insecticide use. Information on insecticide resistance status, patterns, and timing will help local public health professionals design sustainable mosquito control programs that will continue to be effective in the fight against disease.

Read Seasonal and geographic variation in insecticide resistance in Aedes aegypti in southern Ecuador, at PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

La Resistencia a los Insecticidas Amenaza el Control de las Enfermedades Transmitidas por Mosquitos en Ecuador

GAINESVILLE – En la batalla contra las enfermedades transmitidas por vectores, el uso de insecticidas para el control de mosquito es una herramienta esencial. Pero ¿qué sucede cuando esa herramienta comienza a fallar y cómo lo sabe? Las agencias de salud pública utilizan regularmente los insecticidas para reducir las poblaciones de mosquitos que chupan la sangre. Los programas de control efectivos son importantes para la salud pública porque, además de ser una molestia, los mosquitos también pueden transmitir enfermedades a los humanos. La resistencia hacia los insecticidas, donde los mosquitos se adaptan para sobrevivir a la exposición a sustancias químicas de uso común, se ha convertido en un problema cada vez más urgente para muchas agencias de salud, desfavoreciendo los esfuerzos de control de mosquitos. Una nueva investigación realizada por el Grupo de Laboratorios de Ecología y Conservación de Enfermedades Cuantitativas (QDEC) en la Universidad de Florida, el Centro de Investigación para la Salud en América Latina (CISeAL) en la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), el Instituto de Salud Global y la Ciencia Traslacional en la Universidad Médica del Estado de SUNY, la Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL), y la Universidad Técnica de Machala es el primer intento en investigar las variaciones estacionales y geográficas sobre resistencia a insecticidas en mosquitos en la costa sur de Ecuador, una región donde el control de mosquitos es clave para detener la propagación de enfermedades graves como el Zika y el Dengue. El estudio fue financiado por los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CCPEEU). El equipo de investigación usó tanto análisis genético como los ensayos de pesticidas para evaluar la resistencia a insecticidas en los mosquitos recolectados en áreas urbanas, en diferentes estaciones. Diferencias en el estado de resistencia en mosquitos a los insecticidas comúnmente utilizados por el ministerio de salud local, se encontraron tanto en las diferentes temporadas de recolección, como en las cuatro ciudades dentro del área de estudio. La resistencia detectada al malatión, la deltametrina, y la alfa-cipermetrina fue particularmente alta en la ciudad portuaria de Machala, que tiene una larga historia de brotes de dengue y uso de insecticidas. La información sobre el estado de resistencia hacia insecticidas, los patrones y el tiempo ayudará a los profesionales de la salud pública local a diseñar programas sostenibles de control de mosquitos que continuarán siendo eficaces en la lucha contra la enfermedad.

Lee Seasonal and geographic variation in insecticide resistance in Aedes aegypti in southern Ecuador, en PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.


Media contact: Mike Ryan Simonovich

Congratulations to Emily Stone, recipient of an Emerging Scholars Award from the University of Florida’s Center for Undergraduate Research!

The Emerging Scholars program supports early undergraduate students who are interested in adding a research experience to their curriculum. The award provides two semesters of support to work on a research project with a UF faculty member.

Emily is working with Dr. Sadie Ryan and the QDEC lab in the Department of Geography to explore the impacts of socioeconomic status on Aedes albopictus size and insecticide resistance. Her project is part of a larger collaboration supported by the CDC Center of Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases. Emily is a sophomore microbiology major with goals of completing a PhD in infectious disease dynamics.