Establishment of Wolbachia infection in Aedes aegypti from Pakistan via embryonic microinjection and semi-field evaluation of general fitness of resultant mosquito population

M. S. Sarwar, N. Jahan, A. Ali, H. K. Yousaf and I. Munzoor,  Parasites and Vectors,  15:191. 2022.

BACKGROUND: Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that is mainly spread by Aedes aegypti. It is prevalent on five continents, predominantly in tropical and sub-tropical zones across the world. Wolbachia bacteria have been extensively used in vector control strategies worldwide. The focus of the current study was to obtain a natural population of Ae. aegypti harbouring Wolbachia and to determine the impact of this bacteria on the new host in a semi-field environment. METHODS: Wolbachia-infected Aedes albopictus was collected from the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, and Wolbachia were successfully introduced into laboratory-reared Ae. aegypti via embryonic microinjection. The stable vertical transmission of wAlbB in the host population was observed for eight generations, and the impact of Wolbachia on the general fitness of the host was evaluated in semi-field conditions. RESULTS: In the laboratory and semi-field experiments, wAlbB Wolbachia presented a strong cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) effect, evidenced as zero egg hatching, in crosses between Wolbachia-infected males and wild (uninfected) females of Ae. aegypti. Wolbachia infection had no noticeable impact on the general fitness (P > 0.05), fecundity, body size (females and males) and mating competitiveness of the new host, Ae. aegypti. However, there was a significant decrease in female fertility (egg hatch) (P < 0.001). In addition, under starvation conditions, there was a remarkable decrease (P < 0.0001) in the life span of Wolbachia-infected females compared to uninfected females (4 vs. > 5 days, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Wolbachia strain wAlbB has a great potential to control the dengue vector in Ae. aegypti populations by producing 100% CI with a limited burden on its host in natural field conditions. This strain can be used as a biological tool against vector-borne diseases.

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