Effects of radiation on the fitness, sterility and arbovirus susceptibility of a Wolbachia-free Aedes albopictus strain for use in the Sterile Insect Technique

D. J. Zhang, S. Yan, H. Yamada, Y. Wu, G. Wang, Q. D. Feng, D. Paerhande, H. Maiga, J. Bouyer, J. Qian, Z. D. Wu and X. Y. Zheng,  Pest Management Science,  2023.

BACKGROUND: The sterile insect technique (SIT) is a green and species-specific insect pest control technique that suppresses target populations by releasing factory-reared, radio-sterilized males into the wild. Once released, it is important to be able to distinguish the released males from the wild males for monitoring purposes. Several methods to mark the sterile males exist. However, most have limitations due to monetary, process efficiency, or insect quality. Aedes albopictus is naturally infected with Wolbachia at a high prevalence. Therefore, the elimination of Wolbachia can serve as a biomarker to distinguish the factory-reared male mosquitoes from wild conspecifics. RESULTS: In this study, a Wolbachia-free Ae. albopictus GT strain was developed and its fitness evaluated, which was found to be comparable to the wild GUA strain. In addition, GT male mosquitoes were irradiated at the adult stage and a dose of 20 Gy or more induced over 99% sterility. Moreover, a dose of 30 Gy (almost completely sterilizing male and female mosquitoes) had limited effects on the mating competitiveness of GT males and vector competence of GT females, respectively. However, radiation reduced mosquito longevity, regardless of its sex. CONCLUSION: Our results indicated that the Ae. albopictus GT strain can be distinguished from the wild mosquitoes based on Wolbachia status and shows similar fitness, radio-sensitivity and arbovirus susceptibility to the GUA strain, indicating that it is feasible to use the GT strain to suppress Ae. albopictus populations for SIT programmes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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