Methods in Molecular Biology

Wolbachia Transinfection Via Embryonic Microinjection

Zhang, M., Xi, Z.,  Methods in Molecular Biology,  2739. 2023.

The process of transferring Wolbachia from one species to another to establish a stable, maternally inherited infection in the target species is known as transinfection. The success of transinfection is primarily achieved through embryonic microinjection, which is the most direct and efficient means of delivering Wolbachia into the germline of the target species and establishing stable maternal transmission. For the fundamental studies, transinfection is often used to characterize Wolbachia-host interactions, including Wolbachia host range, the role of host or bacterial factors in symbiosis, and evolution of Wolbachia-host associations. For the applied studies, use of transinfection to generate a novel infection in the target species is the first step to build the weapon for both population replacement and population suppression for controlling insect pests or their transmitted diseases.

For the primary dengue vector Aedes aegypti and Anopheles vectors of malaria, which either do not naturally carry Wolbachia or are infected with strains that lack necessary features for implementation, transinfection can be established by introducing a novel strain capable of inducing both cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) and pathogen blocking. For A. albopictus and Culex mosquito species, which naturally harbor CI-inducing Wolbachia, transinfection can be achieved by either introducing a novel strain to generate superinfection or replacing the native infection with a different Wolbachia strain in a symbiont-free line, which is derived from antibiotic treatment of the wild type. Here, we use A. aegypti as an example to describe the Wolbachia transinfection method, which can be adapted to other insect species, such as planthoppers, according to their specific developmental requirements.

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