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Near-infrared spectroscopy, a rapid method for predicting the age of male and female wild-type and Wolbachia infected Aedes aegypti

Sikulu-Lord, Maggy T., Milali, Masabho P., Henry, Michael, Wirtz, Robert A., Hugo, Leon E., Dowell, Floyd E., Devine, Gregor J.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2016 v.10 no.10
Aedes aegypti, Wolbachia pipientis, accuracy, age, dengue, females, least squares, males, monitoring, near-infrared spectroscopy, prediction, rapid methods, strains, vector control
Estimating the age distribution of mosquito populations is crucial for assessing their capacity to transmit disease and for evaluating the efficacy of available vector control programs. This study reports on the capacity of the near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technique to rapidly predict the ages of the principal dengue and Zika vector, Aedes aegypti. The age of wild-type males and females, and males and females infected with wMel and wMelPop strains of Wolbachia pipientis were characterized using this method. Calibrations were developed using spectra collected from their heads and thoraces using partial least squares (PLS) regression. A highly significant correlation was found between the true and predicted ages of mosquitoes. The coefficients of determination for wild-type females and males across all age groups were R2 = 0.84 and 0.78, respectively. The coefficients of determination for the age of wMel and wMelPop infected females were 0.71 and 0.80, respectively (P< 0.001 in both instances). The age of wild-type female Ae. aegypti could be identified as < or ≥ 8 days old with an accuracy of 91% (N = 501), whereas female Ae. aegypti infected with wMel and wMelPop were differentiated into the two age groups with an accuracy of 83% (N = 284) and 78% (N = 229), respectively. Our results also indicate NIRS can distinguish between young and old male wild-type, wMel and wMelPop infected Ae. aegypti with accuracies of 87% (N = 253), 83% (N = 277) and 78% (N = 234), respectively. We have demonstrated the potential of NIRS as a predictor of the age of female and male wild-type and Wolbachia infected Ae. aegypti mosquitoes under laboratory conditions. After field validation, the tool has the potential to offer a cheap and rapid alternative for surveillance of dengue and Zika vector control programs.