Mechanistic modelling of within-mosquito viral dynamics: Insights into infection and dissemination patterns.
Jennifer S Lord | Michael B Bonsall
Vector or host competence can be defined as the ability of an individual to become infected and subsequently transmit a pathogen. Assays to measure competence play a key part in the assessment of the factors affecting mosquito-borne virus transmission and of potential pathogen-blocking control tools for these viruses. For mosquitoes, competence for arboviruses can be measured experimentally and results are usually analysed using standard statistical approaches. Here we develop a mechanistic approach to studying within-mosquito virus dynamics that occur during vector competence experiments. We begin by developing a deterministic model of virus replication in the mosquito midgut and subsequent escape and replication in the hemocoel. We then extend this to a stochastic model to capture the between-individual variation observed in vector competence experiments. We show that the dose-response of the probability of mosquito midgut infection and variation in the dissemination rate can be explained by stochastic processes generated from a small founding population of virions, caused by a relatively low rate of virion infection of susceptible cells. We also show that comparing treatments or species in competence experiments by fitting mechanistic models could provide further insight into potential differences. Generally, our work adds to the growing body of literature emphasizing the importance of intrinsic stochasticity in biological systems.Show more [+] Less [-]