Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Tara Thiemann

First Committee Member

Doug Weiser

Second Committee Member

Shaoming Huang


Culex mosquitoes are known for carrying several harmful viruses in the United States. Culex tarsalis is found in rural as well as some residential areas in the Western United States, so they are under insecticide pressure from both agricultural spraying and vector control. In response to insecticide pressure, mosquitoes can evolve two primary resistance mechanisms: target site insensitivity, as a result of DNA mutation, and elevated levels of detoxifying enzymes (GST, alpha and beta esterases, and P450 oxidases). The two types of target site insensitivity studied here in Cx. tarsalis are kdr, which is a mutation in the para-type voltage gated sodium channel and ace-1, which is a mutation in acetylcholinesterase gene. This study focused on a population of Cx. tarsalis in Sutter County, where insecticide use shifted from sumithrin to Naled over the course of the summer. The goal of this study was to determine if there was resistance to insecticides and characterize the mechanisms of resistance. Mosquitoes were separated into resistance levels based on CDC bottle bioassay results using Naled, sumithrin, and permethrin insecticides. Mosquitoes were used to test for elevated levels of detoxifying enzymes and genetic qPCR testing for either kdr and ace-1 mutations. Bottle bioassay results suggest Cx. tarsalis populations from Sutter County are mostly resistant to pyrethroids while not being resistant to organophosphates. Enzymatic assays suggest high concentrations or activities of detoxifying enzymes are commonly seen in resistant individuals, occasionally elevated levels of multiple enzymes within an individual. The ace-1 mutation was seen in a single susceptible individual (0.036%). Either one or two kdr alleles were present in every single semi-resistant or resistant mosquito tested.

Included in

Biology Commons



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