Mosquitoes in double role: pollinators and virus vectors

(, 2020 - 2023, running project)
Coordinator or leader of the project: 
Zoltán SOLTÉSZ
Coordinator or leader institution of the project: 
Ökológiai Kutatóközpont
Short description: 

Mosquitoes (Culicidae) are well-known vectors of important pathogens therefore they have a distinguished role in human and animal health. Because of this they belong to the best studied insect family. Their role as pollinators is not yet clear, though certain studies suggest a major share in pollination. Nowadays pollination has become a threatened ecosystem service. There are more and more publications dealing with the role of pollinator insects like bees – first of all honey bees – and the global pollination crisis. Much fewer studies discuss the pollination role of flies, and only a very few study mosquitoes. These later publications mention them as flower-visitors. Although pollen transport has been proven, only 2-3 of these papers verified de facto pollination.
Novelty in my planned research is the study of the virus transfer function of mosquitoes in connection with pollination. In case this transfer mechanism gets proven, virus transmission models have to be completely reconsidered. Infected mosquitoes can infect the nectar (similarly to blood-sucking) with pathogens during nectar suction. On the other hand it is not yet known whether the mosquitoes sucking the infected nectar themselves become infected. Both native and invasive mosquito species will be studied to test this virus transfer pathway.
Innovative feature that the distribution mapping of the most dangerous invasive Aedes albopictus will be carried out as a volunteer monitoring project. Based on the gained experience further mosquito species mapping projects can be feasible in the future.

Project (team) members at ÖK: