Nation’s tick testing lab adds mosquitoes to repertoire
Thousands of sample mosquitoes an ecological ‘time capsule’
The Laboratory of Medical Zoology (LMZ), better known for its national tick-borne disease testing service, began testing mosquitoes with the arrival of 15,000 vials of mosquitoes collected from 47 sites across the continent as part of National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project, reports lab director Stephen Rich (microbiology).
Rich says, “We’ve been testing ticks for NEON for a couple years, and we’re excited to now become the nation’s mosquito testing laboratory. Our lab will test these mosquitoes for a variety of known viruses such as Eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus, Zika and dengue, plus a number of unknown viruses.” The mosquitoes arrive via FedEx and are placed in ultra-cold freezers. Rich calls the NEON mosquitoes from across the nation are “a precious resource,” because so much effort by others has gone into collecting and sorting them by species before they reach the LMZ. “These samples are a kind of time capsule that will be used to study the changing ecological profile across the continent.”
NEON is a continental-scale ecological observation facility, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, that collects and provides open data to characterize and quantify how our nation’s ecosystems are changing. The project will contribute to a better understanding and more accurate forecasting of how human activities impact ecology and how our society can more effectively address critical ecological questions and issues.