Host-Environment Interplay Shapes Fungal Diversity in Mosquitoes

mSphere. 2021 Sep 29;e0064621. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00646-21. Online ahead of print.


Mosquito larvae encounter diverse assemblages of bacteria (i.e., "microbiota") and fungi in the aquatic environments that they develop in. However, while a number of studies have addressed the diversity and function of microbiota in mosquito life history, relatively little is known about mosquito-fungus interactions outside several key fungal entomopathogens. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing of internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) metabarcode markers to provide the first simultaneous characterization of the fungal communities in field-collected Aedes albopictus larvae and their associated aquatic environments. Our results reveal unprecedented variation in fungal communities among adjacent but discrete larval breeding habitats. Our results also reveal a distinct fungal community assembly in the mosquito gut versus other tissues, with gut-associated fungal communities being most similar to those present in the environment where larvae feed. Altogether, our results identify the environment as the dominant factor shaping the fungal community associated with mosquito larvae, with no evidence of environmental filtering by the gut. These results also identify mosquito feeding behavior and fungal mode of nutrition as potential drivers of tissue-specific fungal community assembly after environmental acquisition. IMPORTANCE The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is the dominant mosquito species in the United States and an important vector of arboviruses of major public health concern. One aspect of mosquito control to curb mosquito-borne diseases has been the use of biological control agents such as fungal entomopathogens. Recent studies also demonstrate the impact of mosquito-associated microbial communities on various mosquito traits, including vector competence. However, while much research attention has been dedicated to understanding the diversity and function of mosquito-associated bacterial communities, relatively little is known about mosquito-associated fungal communities. A better understanding of the factors that drive fungal community diversity and assembly in mosquitoes will be essential for future efforts to target mosquito-associated bacteria and fungi for mosquito and mosquito-borne disease control.

Keywords: Aedes albopictus; diversity; fungal community; gut; insect; microbiota; mycobiota.