A curious coincidence: mosquito biodiversity and the limits of the Japanese encephalitis virus in Australasia.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The mosquito Culex annulirostris Skuse (Diptera: Culicidae) is the major vector of endemic arboviruses in Australia and is also responsible for the establishment of the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in southern Papua New Guinea (PNG) as well as its incursions into northern Australia. Papua New Guinea and mainland Australia are separated by a small stretch of water, the Torres Strait, and its islands. While there has been regular JEV activity on these islands, JEV has not established on mainland Australia despite an abundance of Cx. annulirostris and porcine amplifying hosts. Despite the public health significance of this mosquito and the fact that its adults show overlapping morphology with close relative Cx. palpalis Taylor, its evolution and genetic structure remain undetermined. We address a hypothesis that there is significant genetic diversity in Cx. annulirostris and that the identification of this diversity will shed light on the paradox that JEV can cycle on an island 70 km from mainland Australia while not establishing in Australia itself. RESULTS: We sequenced 538 bp of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I gene from 273 individuals collected from 43 localities in Australia and the southwest Pacific region to describe the phylogeography of Cx. annulirostris and its sister species Cx. palpalis. Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian analyses reveal supporting evidence for multiple divergent lineages that display geographic restriction. Culex palpalis contained three divergent lineages geographically restricted to southern Australia, northern Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Culex annulirostris contained five geographically restricted divergent lineages, with one lineage restricted to the Solomon Islands and two identified mainly within Australia while two other lineages showed distributions in PNG and the Torres Strait Islands with a southern limit at the top of Australia's Cape York Peninsula. CONCLUSION: The existence of divergent mitochondrial lineages within Cx. annulirostris and Cx. palpalis helps explain the difficulty of using adult morphology to identify Cx. annulirostris and its ecological diversity. Notably, the southern limit of the PNG lineages of Cx. annulirostris coincides exactly with the current southern limit of JEV activity in Australasia suggesting that variation in these COI lineages may be the key to why JEV has not yet established yet on mainland Australia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The range of the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus is expanding globally, raising the threat of emerging and re-emerging arbovirus transmission risks including dengue and chikungunya. Its detection in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) southern Fly River coastal region in 1988 and 1992 placed it 150 km from mainland Australia. However, it was not until 12 years later that it appeared on the Torres Strait Islands. We hypothesized that the extant PNG population expanded into the Torres Straits as an indirect effect of drought-proofing the southern Fly River coastal villages in response to El Nino-driven climate variability in the region (via the rollout of rainwater tanks and water storage containers). METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Examination of the mosquito's mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequences and 13 novel nuclear microsatellites revealed evidence of substantial intermixing between PNG's southern Fly region and Torres Strait Island populations essentially compromising any island eradication attempts due to potential of reintroduction. However, two genetically distinct populations were identified in this region comprising the historically extant PNG populations and the exotic introduced population. Both COI sequence data and microsatellites showed the introduced population to have genetic affinities to populations from Timor Leste and Jakarta in the Indonesian region. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:The Ae. albopictus invasion into the Australian region was not a range expansion out of PNG as suspected, but founded by other, genetically distinct population(s), with strong genetic affinities to populations sampled from the Indonesian region. We now suspect that the introduction of Ae. albopictus into the Australian region was driven by widespread illegal fishing activity originating from the Indonesian region during this period. Human sea traffic is apparently shuttling this mosquito between islands in the Torres Strait and the southern PNG mainland and this extensive movement may well compromise Ae. albopictus eradication attempts in this region.
Project description:Dengue is the most common cause of mosquito-borne viral disease in humans, and is endemic in more than 100 tropical and subtropical countries. Periodic outbreaks of dengue have been reported in Papua New Guinea (PNG), but there is only limited knowledge of its endemicity and disease burden. To help elucidate the status of the dengue viruses (DENVs) in PNG, we performed envelope (E) gene sequencing of DENV serotypes 1-4 (DENV 1-4) obtained from infected patients who traveled to Australia or from patients diagnosed during local DENV transmission events between 2001 and 2016. Phylogenetic analysis and comparison with globally available DENV sequences revealed new endemic PNG lineages for DENV 1-3 which have emerged within the last decade. We also identified another possible PNG lineage for DENV-4 from 2016. The DENV-1 and 3 PNG lineages were most closely related to recent lineages circulating on Pacific island nations while the DENV-2 lineage and putative DENV-4 PNG lineage were most similar to Indonesian sequences. This study has demonstrated for the first time the co-circulation of DENV 1-4 strains in PNG and provided molecular evidence of endemic DENV transmission. Our results provide an important platform for improved surveillance and monitoring of DENVs in PNG and broaden the global understanding of DENV genetic diversity.
Project description:Metagenomics revealed an impressive breadth of previously unrecognized viruses. Here, we report the virome of the Culex annulirostris Skuse mosquito, an important vector of pathogenic arboviruses in Australia. Mosquitoes were collected from three sites in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Unbiased high-throughput sequencing (HTS) revealed the presence of 16 novel viral sequences that share less than 90% identity with known viruses. None were closely related to pathogenic arboviruses. Viruses were distributed unevenly across sites, indicating a heterogeneous Cx. annulirostris virome. Polymerase chain reaction assays confirmed HTS data and identified marked variation between the virus prevalence identified at each site.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Zika virus is an emerging pathogen of global importance. It has been responsible for recent outbreaks in the Americas and in the Pacific region. This study assessed five different mosquito species from the temperate climatic zone in Australia and included Aedes albopictus as a potentially invasive species. METHODS:Mosquitoes were orally challenged by membrane feeding with Zika virus strain of Cambodia 2010 origin, belonging to the Asian clade. Virus infection and dissemination were assessed by quantitative PCR on midgut and carcass after dissection. Transmission was assessed by determination of cytopathogenic effect of saliva (CPE) on Vero cells, followed by determination of 50% tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50) for CPE positive samples. Additionally, the presence of Wolbachia endosymbiont infection was assessed by qPCR and standard PCR. RESULTS:Culex mosquitoes were found unable to present Zika virus in saliva, as demonstrated by molecular as well as virological methods. Aedes aegypti, was used as a positive control for Zika infection and showed a high level of virus infection, dissemination and transmission. Local Aedes species, Ae. notoscriptus and, to a lesser degree, Ae. camptorhynchus were found to expel virus in their saliva and contained viral nucleic acid within the midgut. Molecular assessment identified low or no dissemination for these species, possibly due to low virus loads. Ae. albopictus from Torres Strait islands origin was shown as an efficient vector. Cx quinquefasciatus was shown to harbour Wolbachia endosymbionts at high prevalence, whilst no Wolbachia was found in Cx annulirostris. The Australian Ae. albopictus population was shown to harbour Wolbachia at high frequency. CONCLUSIONS:The risk of local Aedes species triggering large Zika epidemics in the southern parts of Australia is low. The potentially invasive Ae. albopictus showed high prevalence of virus in the saliva and constitutes a potential threat if this mosquito species becomes established in mainland Australia. Complete risk analysis of Zika transmission in the temperate zone would require an assessment of the impact of temperature on Zika virus replication within local and invasive mosquito species.
Project description:A male patient in his 50s who traveled from Papua New Guinea (PNG) to Australia in 2016 was diagnosed with a dengue virus serotype 4 (DENV-4) infection, and the virus was isolated from his acute-phase serum. Here, we describe the first complete genome sequence of a DENV-4 strain from PNG.
Project description:Little is known about the natural history of dengue in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We assessed dengue virus (DENV)-specific neutralizing antibody profiles in serum samples collected from northern and southern coastal areas and the highland region of New Guinea between 1959 and 1963. Neutralizing antibodies were demonstrated in sera from the northern coast of New Guinea: from Sabron in Dutch New Guinea (now known as West Papua) and from four villages in East Sepik in what is now PNG. Previous monotypic infection with DENV-1, DENV-2, and DENV-4 was identified, with a predominance of anti-DENV-2 neutralizing antibody. The majority of positive sera demonstrated evidence of multiple previous DENV infections and neutralizing activity against all four serotypes was detected, with anti-DENV-2 responses being most frequent and of greatest magnitude. No evidence of previous DENV infection was identified in the Asmat villages of the southern coast and a single anti-DENV-positive sample was identified in the Eastern Highlands of PNG. These findings indicate that multiple DENV serotypes circulated along the northern coast of New Guinea at different times in the decades prior to 1963 and support the notion that dengue has been a significant yet neglected tropical infection in PNG for many decades.
Project description:Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infection in mosquitoes was monitored in Vietnam from 2006 to 2008. A total of 15,225 mosquitoes, identified as 26 species in five genera were collected and 12,621 were grouped into 447 pools for examination of JEV infection by assays for cytopathic effects in C6/36 cells and by RT-PCR to detect flavivirus RNA. Three JEV strains were isolated from Culex tritaeniorhynchus Giles collected in northern and southern Vietnam and two JEV strains were isolated from Culex vishnui Theobald collected in the highlands of Vietnam. Genetic and phylogenetic analyses, based on complete E gene nucleotide sequences, revealed that the five JEV strains were classified into the genotype I group and six amino acid differences were found in these five strains. These results indicated that multiple JEV genotype I populations are circulating countrywide in Vietnam, transmitted by bites of their Cx. tritaeniorhynchus and Cx. vishnui.
Project description:Tuberculosis (TB) is a growing problem worldwide, especially with the emergence and high prevalence of multidrug-resistant strains. We develop a metapopulation model for TB spread, which is particularly suited to investigating transmission between areas of high and low prevalence. A case study of cross-border transmission in the Torres Strait region of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) is considered and a sensitivity analysis is conducted. We find that only 6 of the 50 parameters analysed are important to the cumulative number of clinically active TB patients in the entire region. Of these, only the detection rate in PNG is found to be an important intervention parameter. We therefore give insight into the extent the area with the high burden of TB (PNG in the case study) is dominating the TB dynamics of the entire region. Furthermore, the sensitivity analysis results give insight into the data that most important to collect and refine, which is found to be data relating to the PNG parameters.
Project description:Barmah Forest virus (BFV) is a medically important mosquito-borne alphavirus endemic to Australia. Symptomatic disease can be a major cause of morbidity, associated with fever, rash, and debilitating arthralgia. BFV disease is similar to that caused by Ross River virus (RRV), the other major Australian alphavirus. Currently, just four BFV whole-genome sequences are available with no genome-scale phylogeny in existence to robustly characterise genetic diversity. Thirty novel genome sequences were derived for this study, for a final 34-taxon dataset sampled over a 44 year period. Three distinct BFV genotypes were characterised (G1-3) that have circulated in Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Evidence of spatio-temporal co-circulation of G2 and G3 within regions of Australia was noted, including in the South West region of Western Australia (WA) during the first reported disease outbreaks in the state's history. Compared with RRV, the BFV population appeared more stable with less frequent emergence of novel lineages. Preliminary in vitro assessment of RRV and BFV replication kinetics found that RRV replicates at a significantly faster rate and to a higher, more persistent titre compared with BFV, perhaps indicating mosquitoes may be infectious with RRV for longer than with BFV. This investigation resolved a greater diversity of BFV, and a greater understanding of the evolutionary dynamics and history was attained.
Project description:We examined genetic affinities of Aboriginal Australian and New Guinean populations by using nucleotide variation in the two hypervariable segments of the mtDNA control region (CR). A total of 318 individuals from highland Papua New Guinea (PNG), coastal PNG, and Aboriginal Australian populations were typed with a panel of 29 sequence-specific oligonucleotide (SSO) probes. The SSO-probe panel included five new probes that were used to type an additional 1,037 individuals from several Asian populations. The SSO-type data guided the selection of 78 individuals from Australia and east Indonesia for CR sequencing. A gene tree of these CR sequences, combined with published sequences from worldwide populations, contains two previously identified highland PNG clusters that do not include any Aboriginal Australians; the highland PNG clusters have coalescent time estimates of approximately 80,000 and 122,000 years ago, suggesting ancient isolation and genetic drift. SSO-type data indicate that 84% of the sample of PNG highlander mtDNA belong to these two clusters. In contrast, the Aboriginal Australian sequences are intermingled throughout the tree and cluster with sequences from multiple populations. Phylogenetic and multidimensional-scaling analyses of CR sequences and SSO types split PNG highland and Aboriginal Australian populations and link Aboriginal Australian populations with populations from the subcontinent of India. These mtDNA results do not support a close relationship between Aboriginal Australian and PNG populations but instead suggest multiple migrations in the peopling of Sahul.