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Data from: The potential for flower nectar to allow mosquito to mosquito transmission of Francisella tularensis

Citation

Kenney, Adam et al. (2018), Data from: The potential for flower nectar to allow mosquito to mosquito transmission of Francisella tularensis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q9f5d

Abstract

Francisella tularensis is disseminated in nature by biting arthropods such as mosquitoes. The relationship between mosquitoes and F. tularensis in nature is highly ambiguous, due in part to the fact that mosquitoes have caused significant tularemia outbreaks despite being classified as a mechanical vector of F. tularensis. One possible explanation for mosquitoes being a prominent, yet mechanical vector is that these insects feed on flower nectar between blood meals, allowing for transmission of F. tularensis between mosquitoes. Here, we aimed to assess whether F. tularensis could survive in flower nectar. Moreover, we examined if mosquitoes could interact with or ingest and transmit F. tularensis from one source of nectar to another. F. tularensis exhibited robust survivability in flower nectar with concentrations of viable bacteria remaining consistent with the rich growth medium. Furthermore, F. tularensis was able to survive (albeit to a lesser extent) in 30% sucrose (a nectar surrogate) over a period of time consistent with that of a typical flower bloom. Although we observed diminished bacterial survival in the nectar surrogate, mosquitoes that fed on this material became colonized with F. tularensis. Finally, colonized mosquitoes were capable of transferring F. tularensis to a sterile nectar surrogate. These data suggest that flower nectar may be capable of serving as a temporary source of F. tularensis that could contribute to the amplification of outbreaks. Mosquitoes that feed on an infected mammalian host and subsequently feed on flower nectar could deposit some F. tularensis bacteria into the nectar in the process. Mosquitoes subsequently feeding on this nectar source could potentially become colonized by F. tularensis. Thus, the possibility exists that flower nectar may allow for vector-vector transmission of F. tularensis.

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