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Data from: Venereal Transmission of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus by Culicoides sonorensis Midges

posted on 2024-01-30, 22:03 authored by Paula Rozo-Lopez, Berlin Londono-Renteria, Barbara DroletBarbara Drolet

Culicoides sonorensis biting midges are well-known agricultural pests and transmission vectors of arboviruses such as vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). The epidemiology of VSV is complex and encompasses a broad range of vertebrate hosts, multiple routes of transmission, and diverse vector species. In temperate regions, viruses can overwinter in the absence of infected animals through unknown mechanisms, to reoccur the next year. Non-conventional routes for VSV vector transmission may help explain viral maintenance in midge populations during inter-epidemic periods and times of adverse conditions for bite transmission. In this study, we examined whether VSV could be transmitted venereally between male and female midges. Our results showed that VSV-infected females could venereally transmit virus to uninfected naïve males at a rate as high as 76.3% (RT-qPCR), 31.6% (virus isolation) during the third gonotrophic cycle. Additionally, VSV-infected males could venereally transmit virus to uninfected naïve females at a rate as high as 76.6% (RT-qPCR), 49.2% (virus isolation). Immunofluorescent staining of micro-dissected reproductive organs, immunochemical staining of midge histological sections, examination of internal reproductive organ morphology, and observations of mating behaviors were used to determine relevant anatomical sites for virus location and to hypothesize the potential mechanism for VSV transmission in C. sonorensis midges through copulation.


USDA-ARS: 3020-32000-019-00D

USDA-ARS: 3020-32000-020-00D


Data contact name

Drolet, Barbara

Data contact email


Ag Data Commons

Intended use

While there are limitations to confined laboratory experiments in induced mating, our research shows VSV midge-to-midge transmission after cohabitation with orally infected, microinjected, or venereally infected midges of the opposite sex. Our description of C. sonorensis mating behavior and the morphological descriptions of the internal reproductive systems of both sexes extends the knowledge of Culicoides midges and relates to previous studies on Culicoides melleus and Culicoides nubeculosus. This research shows the importance of males in VSV transmission dynamics and in the maintenance of VSV in nature. Additionally, the significant VSV-positive staining of female reproductive tissues suggests vertical transmission may also play a role in VSV maintenance. While further studies are needed to determine the effects of VSV vertical transmission, venereal transmission to oviposition, mating behavior, and mate choices of infected/uninfected midges, these results highlight the need to incorporate alternative routes of transmission in understanding arbovirus outbreaks.

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  • Non-geospatial

ISO Topic Category

  • biota
  • environment
  • health

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

Vesiculovirus; Culicoides sonorensis; midges; pests; arboviruses; epidemiology; temperate zones; males; females; reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction; gonotrophic cycle; staining; immunochemistry; histology; copulation; Culicoides nubeculosus

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 103

ARIS Log Number


Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public