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Biological Sciences


Food quality and quantity serve as the basis for cycling of key chemical elements in trophic interactions; yet the role of nutrient stoichiometry in shaping host–pathogen interactions is under appreciated. Most of the emergent mosquito-borne viruses affecting human health are transmitted by mosquitoes that inhabit container systems during their immature stages, where allochthonous input of detritus serves as the basal nutrients. Quantity and type of detritus (animal and plant) were manipulated in microcosms containing newly hatched Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae. Adult mosquitoes derived from these microcosms were allowed to ingest Zika virus-infected blood and then tested for disseminated infection, transmission, and total nutrients (percent carbon, percent nitrogen, ratio of carbon to nitrogen). Treatments lacking high-quality animal (insect) detritus significantly delayed development. Survivorship to adulthood was closely associated with the amount of insect detritus present. Insect detritus was positively correlated with percent nitrogen, which affected Zika virus infection. Disseminated infection and transmission decreased with increasing insect detritus and percent nitrogen. We provide the first definitive evidence linking nutrient stoichiometry to arbovirus infection and transmission in a mosquito using a model system of invasive Ae. aegypti and emergent Zika virus.

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