Climate change and vector-borne diseases: a multi-omics approach of temperature-induced changes in the mosquito

J Travel Med. 2023 Jun 23;30(4):taad062. doi: 10.1093/jtm/taad062.


Background: Climate change and globalization contribute to the expansion of mosquito vectors and their associated pathogens. Long spared, temperate regions have had to deal with the emergence of arboviruses traditionally confined to tropical regions. Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) was reported for the first time in Europe in 2007, causing a localized outbreak in Italy, which then recurred repeatedly over the years in other European localities. This raises the question of climate effects, particularly temperature, on the dynamics of vector-borne viruses. The objective of this study is to improve the understanding of the molecular mechanisms set up in the vector in response to temperature.

Methods: We combine three complementary approaches by examining Aedes albopictus mosquito gene expression (transcriptomics), bacterial flora (metagenomics) and CHIKV evolutionary dynamics (genomics) induced by viral infection and temperature changes.

Results: We show that temperature alters profoundly mosquito gene expression, bacterial microbiome and viral population diversity. We observe that (i) CHIKV infection upregulated most genes (mainly in immune and stress-related pathways) at 20°C but not at 28°C, (ii) CHIKV infection significantly increased the abundance of Enterobacteriaceae Serratia marcescens at 28°C and (iii) CHIKV evolutionary dynamics were different according to temperature.

Conclusion: The substantial changes detected in the vectorial system (the vector and its bacterial microbiota, and the arbovirus) lead to temperature-specific adjustments to reach the ultimate goal of arbovirus transmission; at 20°C and 28°C, the Asian tiger mosquito Ae. albopictus was able to transmit CHIKV at the same efficiency. Therefore, CHIKV is likely to continue its expansion in the northern regions and could become a public health problem in more countries than those already affected in Europe.

Keywords: Aedes albopictus; Temperature; chikungunya.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes*
  • Animals
  • Chikungunya Fever* / epidemiology
  • Chikungunya virus* / genetics
  • Climate Change
  • Humans
  • Multiomics
  • Temperature