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A Comparative Transcriptomic Analysis of the Mosquito Blood Feeding Response

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Female mosquitoes are only able to produce eggs upon feeding on blood from their vertebrate hosts, but this feeding behavior activates a network of genes to ensure their survival following a blood meal. Blood meals are critical to mosquito proliferation despite activating stress and defense responses, however the whole transcriptome at the early time point post-blood meal has not been fully studied across mosquito genera. To explore the transcriptomic responses under environmental thermal stress and early-stage blood feeding, we compared bulk RNA-seq profiles across Ae. aegypti, Ae. albopictus, An. gambiae, An. stephensi, and Cx. quinquefasciatus under these experimental conditions. In addition, we conducted a functional and orthology inference analysis to compare differentially expressed genes across species and condition. We found that despite the conservation of the heat shock response, there are deviations in the response across species based on heat shock inducibility. We were also able to identify that a blood meal elicits a heat shock response in Ae. albopictus and that intersections with the blood feeding response in Ae. albopictus highlights the temporal dynamics to survival thermal stress of a blood meal before the activation of metabolic processes. Our comparative approach and generated RNA-seq datasets illustrates the convergence and divergence in these critical stress responses of mosquitoes that would be beneficial for understanding mosquito survival.

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This item is under embargo until June 24, 2023.