Dynamics of the “Popcorn” Wolbachia Infection in Outbred Aedes aegypti Informs Prospects for Mosquito Vector Control
H. L. Yeap, P. Mee, T. Walker, A. R. Weeks, S. L. O'Neill, P. Johnson, S. A. Ritchie, K. M. Richardson, C. Doig, N. M. Endersby, A. A. Hoffmann


Forty percent of the world's population is at risk of contracting dengue virus, which produces dengue fever with a potentially fatal hemorrhagic form. The wMelPop Wolbachia infection of Drosophila melanogaster reduces life span and interferes with viral transmission when introduced into the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the primary vector of dengue virus. Wolbachia has been proposed as an agent for preventing transmission of dengue virus. Population invasion by Wolbachia depends on levels of cytoplasmic incompatibility, fitness effects, and maternal transmission. Here we characterized these traits in an outbred genetic background of a potential target population of Ae. aegypti using two crossing schemes. Cytoplasmic incompatibility was strong in this background, and the maternal transmission rate of Wolbachia was high. The infection substantially reduced longevity of infected adult females, regardless of whether adults came from larvae cultured under high or low levels of nutrition or density. The infection reduced the viability of diapausing and nondiapausing eggs. Viability was particularly low when eggs were laid by older females and when diapausing eggs had been stored for a few weeks. The infection affected mosquito larval development time and adult body size under different larval nutrition levels and densities. The results were used to assess the potential for wMelPop-CLA to invade natural populations of Ae. aegypti and to develop recommendations for the maintenance of fitness in infected mosquitoes that need to compete against field insects.


  • Received August 18, 2010.
  • Accepted November 18, 2010.
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