The Analysis of the Ebony Gene in Culex tarsalis Across the Major Drainage Basins of Montana
Many diseases are transmitted by vectors one of which is West Nile Virus (WNV). WNV has been in the United States since 1999 and Montana since 2002. The main vector for WNV in Montana is Culex tarsalis. Carroll College monitors the presence and range of WNV every summer since 2009. Better understanding of the vector can help to control the spread and frequency of the disease. Previous studies into the population genetics of Cx. tarsails in Montana have not yielded much insight. The identification of possible isolated populations with the use of naturally occurring variations within the species can be used to direct future inquiry. The analysis of expression of pigmentation via the ebony gene was used to compare the Upper Missouri, Yellowstone, Clark Fork, and Headwaters drainage basins as well as individual sites to determine if any were significantly different. This was done by RT-PCR with RNA extractions. The results suggested no significant differences between individual sites, but differences were suggested between the Clark Fork and Headwaters as well as the Yellowstone and Headwaters drainage basins. The addition of the other major drainage basins and biological replicates of sites to expand on both data sets is the goal for future inquiry.