Using Microsatellite Loci to Analyze Genetic Variation of Culex tarsalis Within Montana
West Nile Virus (WNV) first arrived in the United States in 1999 and by 2002 was detected in Montana. The main bridge vector of WNV in Montana is the mosquito species Culex tarsalis. We are using geographic information system (GIS), molecular tools and landscape modeling techniques to develop a landscape-scale model of WNV infection risk for the state of Montana. The goals of this specific study were to identify microsatellite loci useful for characterizing the population genetic structure of C. tarsalis across Montana, and, utilizing this population genetic data, to infer migration (gene flow) patterns of mosquitoes across the state. Utilizing two microsatellite loci, the distribution of genetic variation among and within five populations of C. tarsalis in Montana was preliminarily characterized. Through the genetic analysis of C. tarsalis, we hope to gain a better understanding of WNV ecology and factors affecting WNV distribution across Montana.