Aedes aegypti, the primary vector of dengue virus, is well established throughout urban areas of the Southwestern US, including Tucson, AZ. Local transmission of the dengue virus, however, has not been reported in this area. Although many factors influence the distribution of the dengue virus, we hypothesize that one contributing factor is that the lifespan of female Ae. aegypti mosquitoes in the Southwestern US is too short for the virus to complete development and be transmitted to a new host. To test this we utilized two age grading techniques. First, we determined parity by analyzing ovarian tracheation and found that only 40% of Ae. aegypti females collected in Tucson, AZ were parous. The second technique determined transcript levels of an age-associated gene, Sarcoplasmic calcium-binding protein 1 (SCP-1). SCP-1 expression decreased in a predictable manner as the age of mosquitoes increased regardless of rearing conditions and reproductive status. We developed statistical models based on parity and SCP-1 expression to determine the age of individual, field collected mosquitoes within three age brackets: nonvectors (0-5 days post-emergence), unlikely vectors (6-14 days post-emergence), and potential vectors (15+ days post-emergence). The statistical models allowed us to accurately group individual wild mosquitoes into the three age brackets with high confidence. SCP-1 expression levels of individual, field collected mosquitoes were analyzed in conjunction with parity status. Based on SCP-1 transcript levels and parity data, 9% of collected mosquitoes survived more than 15 days post emergence.
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