Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Integrative Biology


Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Andrew D. Haddow

Second Advisor

Marina C. Koether

Third Advisor

Whitney C. Preisser


Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of human-made chemicals used in various products. Their heat resistance and water repellency make them useful in commercial and government applications, but their stable structure prevents them from degrading in nature rapidly. For this reason, PFAS have been nicknamed “forever chemicals,” and concerns over their bioaccumulation in animals began in the 1990’s. Since then, PFAS like perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were found to be toxic to humans and other animals, including insects. Contamination is ubiquitous in nature, and these substances are found in the breeding sites of many freshwater invertebrates, including mosquitoes. Mosquitoes undergo development in stagnant freshwater and are known vectors of arthropod-borne viruses. This thesis aims to fill gaps in knowledge by investigating the changes in survival and development of two mosquito species, the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus and the eastern tree-hole mosquito Ae. triseriatus, after PFAS exposure. The first experiment, which exposed larvae of both species to varying concentrations of PFOS, found high mortality rates in both mosquitoes and emergence delays for Ae. triseriatus as the dose increased. The second experiment observed limited mortality but increased times to emergence for Ae. albopictus when exposed to PFHxS or PFOA. Increasing concentrations of PFHxS also resulted in greater proportions of female emergers. Lastly, Ae. albopictus larvae that were exposed to the median lethal concentration (LC50) of PFOS experienced greater adult mortality but no changes in blood-feeding rates, oviposition rates, or fecundity.

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