A wAlbB Wolbachia&lt transinfection displays stable phenotypic effects across divergent Aedes aegypti mosquito backgrounds

P. A. Ross, X. Gu, K. L. Robinson, Q. Yang, E. Cottingham, Y. Zhang, H. L. Yeap, X. Xu, N. M. Endersby-Harshman and A. A. Hoffmann,  bioRxiv,  2021.06.25.450002. 2021.

Aedes mosquitoes harboring intracellular Wolbachia bacteria are being released in arbovirus and mosquito control programs. With releases taking place around the world, understanding the contribution of host variation to Wolbachia phenotype is crucial. We generated a Wolbachia transinfection (wAlbBQ) in Aedes aegypti and performed backcrossing to introduce the infection into Australian or Malaysian nuclear backgrounds. Whole Wolbachia genome sequencing shows that the wAlbBQ transinfection is near-identical to the reference wAlbB genome, suggesting few changes since the infection was first introduced to Ae. aegypti over 15 years ago. However, these sequences were distinct from other available wAlbB genome sequences, highlighting the potential diversity of wAlbB in natural Ae. albopictus populations. Phenotypic comparisons demonstrate effects of wAlbB infection on egg hatch and nuclear background on fecundity and body size, but no interactions between wAlbB infection and nuclear background for any trait. The wAlbB infection was stable at high temperatures and showed perfect maternal transmission and cytoplasmic incompatibility regardless of host background. Our results demonstrate the stability of wAlbB across host backgrounds and point to its long-term effectiveness for controlling arbovirus transmission and mosquito populations.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

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