ABSTRACT: Culicoides are small biting midges involved worldwide in the transmission of bluetongue and African horse sickness viruses. Feeding behaviours of Palaearctic biting midge species and their spatio-temporal dynamics remain unclear at the specific level. Three multiplex species-specific PCR-based assays were developed and used to identify blood meal source of engorged females of Palaearctic midge species of veterinary interest. Species-specific primers of potential hosts from livestock, domestic animals and wildlife (cattle, goat, sheep, red deer, roe deer, chamois, dog, pig, cat, horse) were designed and multiplexed from the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The assays also make possible to identify whether multiple blood meals have been taken. The first results from several Culicoides populations sampled in France highlight the utility of this valuable diagnostic tool combined with species identification assays, and suggest that most of the Culicoides species may have an opportunistic feeding behaviour regarding the host distribution and density. Noteworthy is the peculiar trophic behaviour of Culicoides chiopterus showing clear trends to cattle. Information on host preference and feeding behaviours are crucial for a better understanding of vector-host interactions and disease epidemiology.
Infection, genetics and evolution: journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases 07/2011; 11(5):1103-10. · 3.22 Impact Factor