Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Doria Bowers

Second Advisor

Dr. Whitney Qualls

Third Advisor

Dr. Frank Smith


Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses), such as Sindbis virus (SINV), generate foci of infection within the midgut of viremic blood-fed mosquitoes. Arboviruses can disseminate out of the midgut into the surrounding musculature and hemolymph, eventually making it to the salivary glands where virus can be transmitted by saliva during a subsequent blood-feed. In this study, the virus SINV containing the reporter gene GFP, combined with immunohistochemistry, was imaged using confocal microscopy and used to evaluate the infection within the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti. The spatial distribution of SINV infection revealed two common characteristics of foci generated in the midgut. (1) There is a more diffuse area of SINV proteins in comparison to GFP left behind from the virus and (2) foci contain accumulations of viral proteins. When analyzing SINV infection over 30 days, it was determined that infection within the first ten days resulted in foci within the gut, occasionally with dissemination into the surrounding muscles. In contrast, viral infection observed at later time points were constricted to smaller areas. Additionally, a novel infection site for SINV was identified at the pyloric armature of Ae. aegypti. Located between the midgut and hindgut segments, the pyloric armature aids in filtering, concentrating, and pumping of bloodmeals by using internal chitin micro spines and striate muscles. There was an absence of midgut foci when the pyloric armature, however, associated gut muscles were infected by SINV. This research details the characteristics of viral pathogenesis within tissues over the course of 30 days and proposes that the pyloric armature is a distinct gut segment that can serve as a site for arbovirus infection and dissemination.

Available for download on Saturday, August 03, 2024