Mosquito Surveillance Conducted by US Military Personnel in the Aftermath of the Nuclear Explosion at Nagasaki, Japan, 1945.
In this article, we present digitized records and data of mosquito specimens housed within the US National mosquito collection that are associated with US military surveillance in the city of Nagasaki during Allied occupation of Japan. The specimens of interest were donated to the United States National Museum (USNM) collection by Charles A. Triplehorn in November 1973, and are part of the personal collection of Dr Donald J. Borror who is most famous for his work using bioacoustics to track bird distributions. However, in 1945, Dr Borror was a US Navy entomologist deployed to Japan. (4) In correspondence with the South East Asia Mosquito Project (later redesignated as the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (WRBU)) staff, Dr Borror mentioned documented paper records by Triplehorn containing detailed collection data. An exhaustive search of the WRBU archives did not discover these records. In 1974, there was at least one attempt to contact Dr Borror to request additional information regarding these collection data, but with no response. This article describes how specimen label data related to these collections were digitized and photographed, and all specimens cataloged and accessioned into the USNM inventory.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The National mosquito collection is comprised of approximately 1.5 million specimens and is managed by the WRBU. Digitization is continuous, however, generally focused on gathering specimen data related to ongoing vector-borne disease outbreaks or taxonomic revisions. The Nagasaki specimens were due for accession but had a low priority for digitization and had remained unnoticed for decades. Upon rediscovering these specimens during a routine search for species distribution updates, their historical importance was immediately recognized and the rest of the collection was systematically inspected for other specimens collected in post-WWII Japan.
Specimen labels were digitized by entering verbatim label data into a standard USNM entomology EMu (electronic museum) data entry form. All specimens were assigned a unique USNM catalog number to be officially accessioned into the collection. Although all specimens were assigned new catalog numbers, each record retains every associated original specimen number within the individual records. Each specimen received a unique number and all associated preparations (eg, slides) were also assigned the same catalog number so that all objects associated with each specimen can be tracked using the same catalog number. The 2D matrix barcode labels with these catalog numbers were affixed to each specimen. Barcode labels for pinned specimens were added under existing labels and can be read by a barcode scanner when the specimen is inverted, while barcodes were affixed directly to slide preparations (Figure 1). Specimen labels were photographed to allow verbatim data to be independently verified and address possible errors in interpretation. Specimens were photographed using a Dino-Lite Edge handheld digital microscope (Dino-Lite US, Torrance, CA) with extended depth of field capability for vertical imaging to document their current condition. Each specimen was examined and recorded to document its current condition, sex, and if remounting was required. Figures 1, 2, and 3 show 3 specimen records including photographs, digitized label data, and notes.
In order to map these localities, each specimen was geo-referenced using the point-radius method5 which investigates text descriptions of localities on specimen labels as well as any information relevant to the description of the collection site provided in original descriptions. This allows assignment of the most precise gazetteer entry as possible to serve as a centroid of a collection event. (6) To account for the uncertainty of the exact locality, an uncertainty measurement was assigned using the Mammal Networked Information System Georeferencing Calculator (http://maniset.org). (5) This method accounts for errors and missing information including coordinate datum, extent of the named place, and precision of the coordinates assigned. All specimen label data that could be used to characterize the collecting events were captured and retained. (7) This approach has been applied in the past to specimens of the USNM Psychodidae collection. (8,9) As details about the exact collection sites are not available, specimens within the WWII Japan collection were generally assigned a centroid for the city of Nagasaki and an uncertainty measurement encompassing the entire city.
A total of 452 specimens representing 16 unique taxa with a summary list of habitat descriptions (bionomics) reported for each mosquito species are shown in the Table. Although some specimens showed signs of damage, eg, rubbed setae, broken antennae and/or legs, wings, etc, most were in fair shape with labels that could be read clearly. Nearly all specimens in this investigation were found to have been collected in Nagasaki, Japan, in September and October, 1945. Smaller subsets of specimens from the 207th MSD were collected in Nagasaki, Kyoto, and Isahaya-shi between 1947 and 1950. Of the 16 taxa found in this collection, 8 are known to vector pathogens, including Plasmodium sp. (An. sinensis), Japanese encephalitis virus (Ae. togoi, Cx. tritaeniorhynchus Giles, Cx. vishnui Theobald) and Dengue fever virus (Ae. albopictus). In addition, the Table includes the vector status for each taxon.
When considering the time and place of these collections, it is natural to wonder whether these specimens show any signs of radiation exposure that can be measured today. However intriguing, it is not likely that these specimens will have any recordable radiation. One reason is that after the initial explosion over Nagasaki, only low levels of radiation were recorded from areas outside of a 1.5 km radius from ground zero. (10) Additionally, nuclear fallout is expected to affect invertebrates differently depending on their life history; insects that used topsoil would be more adversely affected than those, such as mosquitoes, that use water that is frequently flushed or diluted with rainfall. Fuller et al (11) suggested resilience of aquatic invertebrate populations to radionuclides.
Since data characterizing the risk to insects after a nuclear explosion are rare, studies examining the impact of radiation exposure due to nuclear reactor meltdowns may be more appropriate. Williams et al (12) investigated the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on local populations of Chironomidae species and found morphological deformities in 60% of field-collected larvae. Although a significant finding, radiation from uncontained nuclear waste was pervasive in this location and had been affecting the ecosystem for years after the disaster. A study investigating the possible impact of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown of 2011 on local populations of the pale grass blue butterfly (Zizeeria maha) found some evidence of morphological abnormalities attributed to radiation exposure. (13) However, this site also had persistent radiation exposure risk. Biological asymmetry, known as fluctuating asymmetry (FA) can be used as a measure of developmental stability. A study (14) on stag beetles (Lucanus cervus) in Chernobyl found that males in highly contaminated sites had significantly elevated levels of FA in secondary sexual characters compared to males from control sites. A detailed study of FA in mosquito samples from Nagasaki may or may not reveal the physical effects of radiation but data on mating success are no longer possible.
The specimens examined during this study represent a lasting and permanent record for the invaluable work done to characterize and combat the mosquito-borne disease threats during the Allied forces occupation of Japan. Military entomologists and other medical officers during that time made systematic collections to develop bionomic profiles for vector species to inform mosquito abatements plans. Although it has been nearly 75 years since these collections were made, the specimens form a lasting legacy that can be used in taxonomic revisions and to accurately predict species distributions and biology.
This study was made possible by a FY2017 grant (P0091_17_WR_1.3.1.) from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch and its Global Emerging Infections Surveillance Section.
This research was performed under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, with institutional support provided by both organizations.
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David B. Pecor, BS
Desmond H. Foley, PhD
Mr Pecor is a Research Technician with the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit, Entomology Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, located at the Smithsonian Institution, Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland.
Dr Foley is a Research Entomologist at the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit, Entomology Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and a Research Associate of the Entomology Department within the National Museum of Natural History, located at the Smithsonian Institution, Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland.
Mr Potter is a student at Kalamazoo College, Michigan. He completed a Walter Reed Army Institute of Research College Qualified Leaders internship with the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit in Summer 2017.
Caption: Figure 1. Specimen information Catalog Number: USNMENT01240053 Scientific Name: Aedes (Stg.) albopictus (Skuse, 1894) Sex/Lifestage: Female, Adult Preparation: Pin mounted Notes: Specimen is in good condition with diagnostic characters clearly visible. Some setae appear rubbed on scutum. Specimen has some dust/debris covering exterior. Glue affixing specimen to pin is stable.
Locality: Nagasaki, Japan
Collection Date: 9 October 1945
Collector: Borror, D.J.
Verbatim Scientific Name: Ae. albopictus
Additional Information: #8
Caption: Figure 2.
Catalog Number: USNMENT01240364
Sex/Lifestage: Whole larva
Notes: Specimen is in good condition with diagnostic characters clearly visible. Mounting medium appears to be Canada Balsam and has darkened slightly.
Locality: Iron kettle, bombed area, Nagasaki, Japan
Collector: Borror, D.J.
Additional Information: #18C
Scientific Name: Aedes (Stg.) albopictus (Skuse, 1894) Preparation: Slide mounted
Collection Date: 11 October 1945
Verbatim Scientific Name: Ae. albopictus
Caption: Figure 3.
Catalog Number: USNMENT01240280
Scientific Name: Culex (Ocu.) bitaeniorhynchus (Giles, 1901)
Sex/Lifestage: Male, Adult
Preparation: Pin mounted adult with slide mounted genitalia
Notes: Specimen is in fair condition with diagnostic characters clearly visible. Glue affixing specimen to pin is stable. Slide mounting medium appears to be Euparal and remains clear.
Locality: Nagasaki, Japan
Collector: Borror, D.J.
Collection Date: 15 November 1945
Verbatim Scientific Name: Culex (Culex) bitaeniorhynchus
Identified by: S.S. 1973
Additional Information: SEAMP ACC No. PREP 69/1396; #1E
A summary of the mosquito specimens considered within this study. Species names are presented along with the total number of specimens associated with each taxon, each species vector status and the collection site description used to inform species bionomics profiles. Species Name Specimen Vector Collection Site Count Status Description Aedes (Hul.) 13 WNV Fire tub, japonicus cemetery urn, (Theobald, 1901) rock hole Aedes (Stg.) 127 DENV, CHIKV, Bamboo stump, albopictus ZIKV bamboo vase, (Skuse, 1894) concrete tub, creek, pan, iron kettle bombed area, cemetery urn, wooden tub Aedes (Tan.) togoi 149 JEV Bamboo stump, (Theobald, 1907) bucket, cement tank, ditch, fire tub, rock hole, tank in bombed area, wooden barrel Anopheles (Ano.) 15 Cement tank, koreicus Yamada seepage pool and Watanabe, 1918 Anopheles (Ano.) 31 Brugia malayi Ditch, grassy sinensis s.l. and secondary pool, nightsoil vector of pool, pond, rice Plasmodium sp. paddy Armigeres (Arm.) 22 Wuchereria Crack, nightsoil subalbatus bancrofti pool (Coquillett, 1898) Culex (Cui.) 21 Cave pool, creek pallidothorax in bombed area Theobald, 1905 Culex (Cux.) 6 Wuchereria Concrete tank, quinquefasciatus bancrofti stone pool Say, 1823 Culex (Cux.) 23 JEV Cement tank, tritaeniorhynchus fire tub, Giles, 1901 nightsoil pool, pond, rice paddy Culex (Cux.) 7 No data vagans Wiedemann, 1828 Culex (Cux.) 1 JEV Artificial pond vishnui Theobald, 1901 Culex (Eum) hayashi 14 Air raid Yamada, 1917 shelter, cement tank, lily pond, ground pool Culex (Lop.) 9 Cave pool infantulus Edwards, 1922 Culex (Ocu.) 5 No data bitaeniorhynchus Giles, 1901 Tripteroides (Trp.) 8 Bamboo stump bambusa (Yamada, 1917) Uranotaenia (Ura.) 1 No data bimaculiala (Leicester, 1908) WNV indicates West Nile virus; DENV, Dengue virus; CHIKV, chikungunya virus; ZIKV, Zika virus; JEV, Japanese encephalitis virus.
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|Author:||Pecor, David B.; Foley, Desmond H.; Potter, Alexander|
|Publication:||U.S. Army Medical Department Journal|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2018|
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