The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae, SKUSE), is an important threat to public health due to its rapid spread and its potential as a vector. The eggs of Ae. albopictus are the most cold resistant life stage and thus, the cold hardiness of eggs is used to predict the future occurrence of the species in distribution models. However, the mechanism of cold hardiness has yet to be revealed. To address this question, we analyzed the layers of diapausing and cold acclimatized eggs of a temperate population of Ae. albopictus in a full factorial test design using transmission electron microscopy. We reviewed the hypotheses that a thickened wax layer or chorion is the cause of cold hardiness but found no evidence. As a result of the induced diapause, the thickness of the dark endochorion as a layer of high electron density and thus an assumed location for waxes was decreasing. We therefore hypothesized a qualitative alteration of the wax layer due to compaction. Cold acclimation was causing an increase in the thickness of the middle serosa cuticle indicating a detachment of serosa membrane from the endochorion as a potential adaptation strategy to isolate inoculating ice formations in the inter-membranous space.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1