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Field application of MALDI-TOF MS on mosquito larvae identification


In recent years, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) has emerged as an efficient tool for arthropod identification. Its application for field monitoring of adult mosquitoes was demonstrated, but identification of larvae has been limited to laboratory-reared specimens. Study aim was to test the success of MALDI-TOF MS in correctly identifying mosquito larvae collected in the field. Collections were performed at 13 breeding sites in urban areas of Marseille, a city in the South of France. A total of 559 larvae were collected. Of these, 73 were accurately morphologically identified, with confirmation either by molecular identification (n = 31) or analysis with MALDI-TOF MS (n = 31) and 11 were tested using both methods. The larvae identified belonged to six species including Culiseta longiareolata, Culex pipiens pipiens, Culex hortensis, Aedes albopictus, Ochlerotatus caspius and Anopheles maculipennis. A high intra-species reproducibility and inter-species specificity of whole larva MS spectra was obtained and was independent of breeding site. More than 92% of the remaining 486 larvae were identified in blind tests against the MS spectra database. Identification rates were lower for early and pupal stages, which is attributed to lower protein abundance and metamorphosis, respectively. The suitability of MALDI-TOF MS for mosquito larvae identification from the field has been confirmed.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Unité de Recherche en Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection, 19-21 bd Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille cedex 5, France. E-mail:
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