Reassortant viruses containing heterologous S and M genomic RNA segments were obtained from both mosquito and vertebrate hosts that had been co-infected with Egyptian and Senegalese strains of Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus. The origin of the S and M RNA segments in each plaque-cloned virus was determined with monoclonal antibodies capable of differentiating the nucleocapsid protein (S segment marker) or the G1 glycoprotein (M segment marker) of the parental strains. In the mosquito , reassortants were detected after sequential ingestion of parental viruses by interrupted feeding on two infected hamster hosts, after feeding on a single host that had been infected with both parental strains, and from individual mosquitoes inoculated intrathoracically with both parental strains. Reassortant viruses replicated efficiently in mosquitoes and were readily transmissible by bite to hamsters. Replication of a second infecting strain of RVF virus was, however, completely inhibited if that virus was inoculated into a mosquito ⩾48 h after the first viral strain. Genetic reassortment may provide a mechanism for increased heterogeneity, and thus affect the epidemiology and evolution of RVF virus.


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