Microbiology of Aquatic Systems

Microbial Ecology

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 158-173

First online:

Species Composition of Bacterial Communities Influences Attraction of Mosquitoes to Experimental Plant Infusions

  • Loganathan PonnusamyAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, North Carolina State University
  • , Dawn M. WessonAffiliated withDepartment of Tropical Medicine, Tulane University
  • , Consuelo ArellanoAffiliated withDepartment of Statistics, North Carolina State University
  • , Coby SchalAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, North Carolina State University
  • , Charles S. AppersonAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, North Carolina State University Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In the container habitats of immature mosquitoes, catabolism of plant matter and other organic detritus by microbial organisms produces metabolites that mediate the oviposition behavior of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Public health agencies commonly use oviposition traps containing plant infusions for monitoring populations of these mosquito species, which are global vectors of dengue viruses. In laboratory experiments, gravid females exhibited significantly diminished responses to experimental infusions made with sterilized white oak leaves, showing that attractive odorants were produced through microbial metabolic activity. We evaluated effects of infusion concentration and fermentation time on attraction of gravid females to infusions made from senescent bamboo or white oak leaves. We used plate counts of heterotrophic bacteria, total counts of 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole-stained bacterial cells, and 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) polymerase chain reaction–denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to show that changes in the relative abundance of bacteria and the species composition of bacterial communities influenced attraction of gravid A. aegypti and A. albopictus mosquitoes to infusions. DGGE profiles showed that bacterial species composition in infusions changed over time. Principal components analysis indicated that oviposition responses to plant infusions were in general most affected by bacterial diversity and abundance. Analysis of bacterial 16S rDNA sequences derived from DGGE bands revealed that Proteobacteria (Alpha-, Beta-, Delta-, and Gamma-) were the predominant bacteria detected in both types of plant infusions. Gravid A. aegypti were significantly attracted to a mix of 14 bacterial species cultured from bamboo leaf infusion. The oviposition response of gravid mosquitoes to plant infusions is strongly influenced by abundance and diversity of bacterial species, which in turn is affected by plant species, leaf biomass, and fermentation time.