The characterization of ion regulation in Amazonian mosquito larvae: Evidence of phenotypic plasticity, population-based disparity, and novel mechanisms of ion uptake

Marjorie L. Patrick, Richard J. Gonzalez, Chris M. Wood, Rod W. Wilson, Timothy J. Bradley, Adalberto L. Val

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18 Scopus citations


This study is the first step in characterizing ion uptake mechanisms of mosquito larvae from the Amazon region of Brazil. Hemolymph NaCl levels and rates of unidirectional Na+ and Cl- uptake were measured in larvae of Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus in a series of environmental manipulations that are known to challenge ion regulation in other aquatic animals. Despite being reared for numerous generations in dilute media (20 μmol L-1 NaCl), both species were able to maintain high hemolymph NaCl concentrations, a departure from previous studies. Exposure to distilled water or high-NaCl media did not affect hemolymph ion levels, but pH 3 caused significant decreases in hemolymph Na+ and Cl- levels in both species. Exposure to water from Rio Negro (pH 5.5), an organically rich but ion-poor body of water, did not disturb hemolymph Na+ and Cl- levels or the uptake of these ions. Acute exposure to control media or Rio Negro water titrated to pH 3.5 caused inhibition of Na+ uptake and stimulation of Cl- uptake in C. quinquefasciatus, but A. aegypti larvae experienced only a significant reduction of Na+ uptake in Rio Negro/pH 3.5 treatment. The stimulation of Cl- uptake at low pH has been documented only in aquatic insects and differs from all other invertebrate and vertebrate species. A similar pattern of Na+ uptake inhibition and Cl- uptake stimulation was observed in A. aegypti larvae exposed to bafilomycin Ap a blocker of V-type H+ ATPase. Culex quinquefasciatus larvae were unaffected by this drug. Both Na+ and Cl- uptake were reduced when C. quinquefasciatus larvae were exposed to acetazolamide, indicating that H+ and HCO3-, derived from hydration of CO2, are involved with Na+ and Cl- uptake. Kinetic analysis of Na+ and Cl- uptake in C. quinquefasciatus, A. aegypti, and Anopheles nuneztovari larvae indicate that these Amazonian species share similar high-capacity and high-affinity mechanisms. Comparison of the Amazonian C. quinquefasciatus with a Californian population provided evidence of both phenotypic plasticity and population disparity in Na+ and Cl- uptake, respectively. When the California population of C. quinquefasciatus was reared in a medium similar to that of the Amazonian group (60 μmol L-1 NaCl) instead of 4,000 μmol L-1 NaCl, larvae increased both Na+ uptake capacity (Jmax) and affinity (i.e., reduced Km), yet Cl- uptake did not change from its nonsaturating, low-capacity pattern. In the reverse experiment, Amazonian C. quinquefasciatus demonstrated plasticity in both Na+ and Cl- uptake by significantly reducing rates when held in 4,000 μmol L-1 NaCl for 3 d.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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