Project: Vertical transmission of Ross River virus in mosquito vectors
Alphaviruses such as Ross River virus, chikungunya and Semliki Forest virus are transmitted by mosquito vectors between susceptible vertebrate hosts. In vertebrates, these viruses usually cause acute infections characterised by high virus production and development of disease symptoms. By contrast, when a mosquito becomes infected by an alphavirus (usually by a blood-meal), the acute infection does not show any evident disease symptoms that affect mosquito fitness. Moreover, the mosquito becomes persistently infected with virus and it is able to transmit it for the rest of its life. In addition, it has recently been suggested that vertical transmission of alphaviruses might play a role in maintaining the virus circulating within the mosquito population.
The Fazakerley group’s main interest is in the pathogenesis of infections caused by RNA viruses, in particular vector-borne (arbovirus) alphaviruses infections of the central nervous system and insect vectors. Our main focus is to dissect the immune mechanisms during viral encephalitis and virus persistence in the central nervous system. We also investigate the arthropod responses to alphaviruses and study their transmission in mosquito vectors.