Today marked the beginning of an experiment that I have been preparing for months. This experiment will consume a majority of my thoughts, time, and energy for the next 2-3 months, and I could not be more excited!
First off, if you are wondering what you are looking at in the picture below, that is THOUSANDS of mosquito larvae that I hatched this morning. Believe it or not, this is only half of the mosquitoes that will be hatched for this project! They will be used in an experiment evaluating the potential for two populations of Aedes aegypti (the yellow fever mosquito) to vertically transmit Zika virus to their offspring. Vertical transmission is the transmission from the mother to her offspring.
In the coming weeks, we will infect these mosquitoes with Zika virus in the laboratory, allow them to lay eggs, hatch those eggs, and test the progeny for the presence of Zika virus… That’s the simplified version, anyways! Over the next few months, I will share the progress of the experiment and the methods we use to investigate something like the vertical transmission of an arbovirus.
From this point forward, everything is on a very strict and planned schedule. Many people will spend many hours on various aspects of the study from bloodfeeding, to sorting mosquitoes, to RNA extractions and PCR. For this week, we are focusing on getting these immature mosquitoes to their adult form to be used in the study. Tomorrow, we will hatch more eggs, separate the larvae into more rearing trays (so they aren’t crowded and have plenty of room to develop), and make final preparations for the study. Stay tuned for more updates!