Ascogregarina culicis and Ascogregarina taiwanensis are common gregarine parasites of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, respectively. These mosquito species are also known to transmit dengue and Chikungunya viruses. The sporozoites of these parasites invade the midgut epithelial cells and develop intracellularly and extracellularly in the gut to complete their life cycles. The midgut is also the primary site for virus replication in the vector mosquitoes. Therefore, studies were carried out with a view to determine the possible role of these gregarines in the vertical transmission of dengue and Chikungunya viruses from larval to adult stage. Experiments were performed by exposing first instar mosquito larvae to suspensions containing parasite oocysts and viruses. Since Ascogregarina sporozoites invade the midgut of first instar larvae, the vertical transmission was determined by feeding the uninfected first instar larvae on the freshly prepared homogenates from mosquitoes, which were dually infected with viruses and the parasite oocysts. Similarly, the role of protozoan parasites in the vertical transmission of viruses was determined by exposing fresh first instar larvae to the dried pellets of homogenates prepared from the mosquitoes dually infected with viruses and the parasite oocysts. Direct vertical transmission and the vertical transmission of CHIK virus through the oocyst of the parasites were observed in the case of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. It is suggested that As. culicis may have an important role in the maintenance of CHIK virus during the inter-epidemic period.
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Vol. 50 • No. 5