Using barcoded Zika virus to assess virus population structure in vitro and in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

James Weger-Lucarelli, Selene M. Garcia, Claudia Rückert, Alex Byas, Shelby L. O'Connor, Matthew T. Aliota, Thomas C. Friedrich, David H. O'Connor, Gregory D. Ebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Arboviruses such as Zika virus (ZIKV, Flaviviridae; Flavivirus) must replicate in both mammalian and insect hosts possessing strong immune defenses. Accordingly, transmission between and replication within hosts involves genetic bottlenecks, during which viral population size and genetic diversity may be significantly reduced. To help quantify these bottlenecks and their effects, we constructed 4 “barcoded” ZIKV populations that theoretically contain thousands of barcodes each. After identifying the most diverse barcoded virus, we passaged this virus 3 times in 2 mammalian and mosquito cell lines and characterized the population using deep sequencing of the barcoded region of the genome. C6/36 maintain higher barcode diversity, even after 3 passages, than Vero. Additionally, field-caught mosquitoes exposed to the virus to assess bottlenecks in a natural host. A progressive reduction in barcode diversity occurred throughout systemic infection of these mosquitoes. Differences in bottlenecks during systemic spread were observed between different populations of Aedes aegypti.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-148
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Arbovirus
  • Flavivirus
  • Mosquito-borne virus
  • Virus evolution
  • Zika virus


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