Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Influence of RVFV infection on olfactory perception and behavior in Drosophila melanogaster

In blood-feeding dipterans, olfaction plays a role in finding hosts and, hence, in spreading pathogens. Several pathogens are known to alter olfactory responses and behavior in vectors. As a mosquito-borne pathogen, Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV) can affect humans and cause great losses in livestock. We test the influence of RVFV infection on sensory perception, olfactory choice behavior and activity on a non-biting insect, Drosophila melanogaster, using electroantennograms (EAG), Y-maze, and locomotor activity monitor. Flies were injected with RVFV MP12 strain. Replication of RVFV and its persistence for at least seven days was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-qPCR). One day post injection, infected flies showed weaker EAG responses towards 1-hexanol, vinegar, and ethyl acetate. In the Y-maze, infected flies showed a significantly lower response for 1-hexanol compared to uninfected flies. At days six or seven post infection, no significant difference between infected and control flies could be found in EAG or Y-maze anymore. Activity of infected flies was reduced at both time points. We found an upregulation of the immune-response gene, nitric oxide synthase, in infected flies. An infection with RVFV is able to transiently reduce olfactory perception and attraction towards food-related odors in Drosophila, while effects on activity and immune effector gene expression persist. A similar effect in blood-feeding insects could affect vector competence in RVFV transmitting dipterans.

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