In Situ Hybridization (RNAscope) Detection of Bluetongue Virus Serotypes 10 and 17 in Experimentally Co-Infected Culicoides sonorensis

Carpenter M, Benavides Obon A, Kopanke J, Lee J, Reed K, Sherman T, Rodgers C, Stenglein M, McDermott E, Mayo C 2023. Pathogens


Bluetongue virus (BTV) is a segmented, double-stranded RNA virus transmitted by Culicoides biting midges. Infection of domestic and wild ruminants with BTV can result in a devastating disease and significant economic losses. As a virus with a segmented genome, reassortment among the BTV serotypes that have co-infected a host may increase genetic diversity, which can alter BTV transmission dynamics and generate epizootic events. The objective of this study was to determine the extent of dissemination and characterize the tropism of BTV serotypes 10 and 17 in co-infected Culicoides sonorensis. Midges were exposed to both BTV serotypes via blood meal and processed for histologic slides 10 days after infection. An in situ hybridization approach was employed using the RNAscope platform to detect the nucleic acid segment 2 of both serotypes. Observations of the mosaic patterns in which serotypes did not often overlap suggest that co-infection at the cellular level may not be abundant with these two serotypes in C. sonorensis. This could be a consequence of superinfection exclusion. Understanding BTV co-infection and its biological consequences will add an important dimension to the modeling of viral evolution and emergence.