Arthropod vectors control the replication of arboviruses through their innate antiviral immune responses. In particular, the RNA interference (RNAi) pathways are of notable significance for the control of viral infections. Although much has been done to understand the role of RNAi in vector populations, little is known about its importance in non-vector mosquito species. In this study, we investigated the presence of an RNAi response in Toxorhynchites amboinensis, which is a non-blood feeding species proposed as a biological control agent against pest mosquitoes. Using a derived cell line (TRA-171), we demonstrate that these mosquitoes possess a functional RNAi response that is active against a mosquito-borne alphavirus, Semliki Forest virus. As observed in vector mosquito species, small RNAs are produced that target viral sequences. The size and characteristics of these small RNAs indicate that both the siRNA and piRNA pathways are induced in response to infection. Taken together, this data suggests that Tx. amboinensis are able to control viral infections in a similar way to natural arbovirus vector mosquito species. Understanding their ability to manage arboviral infections will be advantageous when assessing these and similar species as biological control agents.
Keywords: RNA interference (RNAi); Toxorhynchites amboinensis; alphavirus; antiviral responses; virus discovery.