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Symbiotic bacteria in midges: understanding their role in determining vector competence and transmission of viruses (MIDGESYM)
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Jul 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The health of livestock is commonly impacted by viruses acquired from midge vectors. The viruses transferred following a midge bite cause considerable economic losses across the EU, making control of midges/midge vector competence a pressing concern. Recent research has indicated some inherited symbionts may alter the vector competence of their insect host, and thus represent viable means of interrupting pathogen transmission in natural populations. However, reduction of vector competence has only been considered for Wolbachia symbiont infections, and for viruses of importance to human health. Midges, in contrast, are commonly infected with a Cardinium heritable symbiont with unknown properties. This project seeks to establish tools for understanding this symbiont, and investigate whether it affects host immune system activity and vector competence following exposure to an infected blood meal. This proposal will thus provide both fundamental understanding of a poorly studied symbiont in an important host group, and, more practically, evaluate whether alteration of symbiont presence is a viable means of interrupting viral transmission.

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