The virome of the invasive Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus in Europe

Sandra Abbo, João de Almeida, Roenick Olmo, Carlijn Balvers, Jet Griep, Charlotte Linthout, Sander Koenraadt, Bruno Silva, Jelke Fros, Eric Aguiar, Eric Marois, Gorben Pijlman*, João Marques*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus is rapidly invading North America and Europe. Due to its potential to transmit multiple pathogenic arthropod–borne (arbo)viruses including Zika virus, West Nile virus, and chikungunya virus, it is important to understand the biology of this vector mosquito in more detail. In addition to arboviruses, mosquitoes can also carry insect-specific viruses that are receiving increasing attention due to their potential effects on host physiology and arbovirus transmission. In this study, we characterized the collection of viruses, referred to as the virome, circulating in Ae. japonicus populations in the Netherlands and France. Applying a small RNA-based metagenomic approach to Ae. japonicus, we uncovered a distinct group of viruses present in samples from both the Netherlands and France. These included one known virus, Ae. japonicus narnavirus 1 (AejapNV1), and three new virus species that we named Ae. japonicus totivirus 1 (AejapTV1), Ae. japonicus anphevirus 1 (AejapAV1) and Ae. japonicus bunyavirus 1 (AejapBV1). We also discovered sequences that were presumably derived from two additional novel viruses: Ae. japonicus bunyavirus 2 (AejapBV2) and Ae. japonicus rhabdovirus 1 (AejapRV1). All six viruses induced strong RNA interference responses, including the production of twenty-one nucleotide-sized small interfering RNAs, a signature of active replication in the host. Notably, AejapBV1 and AejapBV2 belong to different viral families; however, no RNA-dependent RNA polymerase sequence has been found for AejapBV2. Intriguingly, our small RNA-based approach identified an ∼1-kb long ambigrammatic RNA that is associated with AejapNV1 as a secondary segment but showed no similarity to any sequence in public databases. We confirmed the presence of AejapNV1 primary and secondary segments, AejapTV1, AejapAV1, and AejapBV1 by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in wild-caught Ae. japonicus mosquitoes. AejapNV1 and AejapTV1 were found at high prevalence (87–100 per cent) in adult females, adult males, and larvae. Using a small RNA-based, sequence-independent metagenomic strategy, we uncovered a conserved and prevalent virome among Ae. japonicus mosquito populations. The high prevalence of AejapNV1 and AejapTV1 across all tested mosquito life stages suggests that these viruses are intimately associated with Ae. japonicus.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbervead041
JournalVirus Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2023


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