Environmental factors influence the local establishment of Wolbachia in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in two small communities in central Vietnam [version 2]

N. T. Hien, D. D. Anh, N. H. Le, N. T. Yen, T. V. Phong, V. S. Nam, T. N. Duong, N. B. Nguyen, D. T. T. Huong, L. Q. Hung, C. N. T. Trinh, N. V. Hoang, V. Q. Mai, L. T. Nghia, N. T. Dong, L. H. Tho, S. Kutcher, T. P. Hurst, J. L. Montgomery, M. Woolfit, E,  Gates Open Research,  5:147. 2022.

Background: The wMel strain of Wolbachia has been successfully introduced into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and subsequently shown to reduce transmission of dengue and other pathogens, under both laboratory and field conditions. Here we describe the entomological outcomes of wMel Wolbachia mosquito releases in two small communities in Nha Trang City in central Vietnam. Methods: The wMel strain of Wolbachia was backcrossed into local Aedes aegypti genotype and mosquito releases were undertaken by community members or by staff. Field monitoring was undertaken to track Wolbachia establishment in local Ae. aegypti mosquito populations. Ecological studies were undertaken to assess relationships between environmental factors and the spatial and temporal variability in Wolbachia infection prevalence in mosquitoes. Results: Releases of wMel Wolbachia Ae. aegypti mosquitoes in two small communities in Nha Trang City resulted in the initial establishment of Wolbachia in the local Ae. aegypti mosquitopopulations, followed by seasonal fluctuations in Wolbachia prevalence. There was significant small-scale spatial heterogeneity in Wolbachia infection prevalence in the Tri Nguyen Village site, resulting in the loss of wMel Wolbachia infection in mosquitoes in north and center areas, despite Wolbachia prevalence remaining high in mosquitoes in the south area. In the second site, Vinh Luong Ward, Wolbachia has persisted at a high level in mosquitoes throughout this site despite similar seasonal fluctuations in wMel Wolbachia prevalence. Conclusion: Seasonal variation in Wolbachia infection prevalence in mosquitoes was associated with elevated temperature conditions, and was possibly due to imperfect maternal transmission of Wolbachia. Heterogeneity in Wolbachia infection prevalence was found throughout one site, and indicates additional factors may influence Wolbachia establishment.

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