U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Association between fertilizer-mediated changes in microbial communities and Aedes albopictus growth and survival

Ephantus J. Muturi, Jose L. Ramirez, Alejandro P. Rooney, Chris Dunlap
Acta tropica 2016 v.164 pp. 54-63
Aedes albopictus, ammonium sulfate, aquatic habitat, bacteria, bacterial communities, community structure, fertilizer application, fungal communities, fungi, genes, insect larvae, internal transcribed spacers, males, mineral fertilizers, nutrients, potassium chloride, potassium sulfate, ribosomal RNA, sex ratio, survival rate, transcription (genetics)
Contamination of aquatic habitats with anthropogenic nutrients has been associated with an increase in mosquito larval populations but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We examined the individual and combined effects of two synthetic fertilizers (ammonium sulfate and potassium chloride) on Aedes albopictus survival, development time, and sex ratio. The bacterial and fungal communities of water samples from different fertilizer treatments were also characterized by MiSeq sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene (bacteria) and internal transcribed spacer 1 (fungi) and their relationship with mosquito survival and development determined. Mosquitoes from ammonium sulfate treatment had significantly lower survival rates and longer development times compared to those from control, potassium chloride or a mixture of the two fertilizers. Fertilizer treatment had no significant effects on Ae. albopictus sex ratio although ammonium sulfate treatment tended to be more biased towards males relative to the other treatments. There were no significant effects of fertilizer treatment on fungal communities. However, potassium chloride treatments had lower bacterial diversity compared to the other treatments and the bacterial community structure of control and potassium chloride treatments differed significantly from that of ammonium sulfate and a mixture of the two fertilizers. Microbial composition but not diversity was significantly associated with mosquito survival and development. These findings suggest that anthropogenic nutrients can have a profound impact on mosquito survival and development. In addition to any potential direct effects on mosquito physiology, our results suggest that fertilizers can act indirectly by disrupting the microbial communities that provide a critical food resource for mosquito larvae.