Prevalence and molecular characterization of Wolbachia in field-collected Aedes albopictus, Anopheles sinensis, Armigeres subalbatus, Culex pipiens and Cx. tritaeniorhynchus in China

Y. Yang, Y. He, G. Zhu, J. Zhang, Z. Gong, S. Huang, G. Lu, Y. Peng, Y. Meng, X. Hao, C. Wang, J. Sun and S. Shang,  PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases,  15:e0009911. 2021.

Wolbachia are maternally transmitted intracellular bacteria that can naturally and artificially infect arthropods and nematodes. Recently, they were applied to control the spread of mosquito-borne pathogens by causing cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) between germ cells of females and males. The ability of Wolbachia to induce CI is based on the prevalence and polymorphism of Wolbachia in natural populations of mosquitoes. In this study, we screened the natural infection level and diversity of Wolbachia in field-collected mosquitoes from 25 provinces of China based on partial sequence of Wolbachia surface protein (wsp) gene and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Among the samples, 2489 mosquitoes were captured from 24 provinces between July and September, 2014 and the remaining 1025 mosquitoes were collected month-by-month in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province between September 2013 and August 2014. Our results showed that the presence of Wolbachia was observed in mosquitoes of Aedes albopictus (97.1%, 331/341), Armigeres subalbatus (95.8%, 481/502), Culex pipiens (87.0%, 1525/1752), Cx. tritaeniorhynchus (17.1%, 14/82), but not Anopheles sinensis (n = 88). Phylogenetic analysis indicated that high polymorphism of wsp and MLST loci was observed in Ae. albopictus mosquitoes, while no or low polymorphisms were in Ar. subalbatus and Cx. pipiens mosquitoes. A total of 12 unique mutations of deduced amino acid were identified in the wsp sequences obtained in this study, including four mutations in Wolbachia supergroup A and eight mutations in supergroup B. This study revealed the prevalence and polymorphism of Wolbachia in mosquitoes in large-scale regions of China and will provide some useful information when performing Wolbachia-based mosquito biocontrol strategies in China.

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