Wolbachia density and cytoplasmic incompatibility in Aedes albopictus: Concerns with using artificial Wolbachia infection as a vector suppression tool

Maurizio Calvitti, Francesca Marini, Angiola Desiderio, Arianna Puggioli, Riccardo Moretti

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The mosquito Aedes albopictusi is a competent vector of harmful human pathogens, including viruses causing dengue and chikungunya. Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) induced by endosymbiotic Wolbachia can be used to produce functionally sterile males that can be released in the field as a suppression tool against this mosquito. Because the available sexing methods are not efficient enough to avoid unintentional release of a few transinfected females, we assessed the CI pattern in crosses between wPip Wolbachia-transinfected (ARwP) females and wild-type males of Ae. albopictus in this study. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to monitor the titer of the Wolbachia strains that naturally infect Ae. albopictus, that is, wAlbA and w AlbB, in age-controlled males and females. Data were coupled with incompatibility level detected when the above-mentioned males were crossed with ARwP females. Wolbachia infection titer was also monitored in samples of wild caught males. Incompatibility level was positively correlated only with wAlbA density. Crosses between wild-type males having very low wAlbA density (<0.001 wAlbA/actin copy numbers) and ARwP females were partially fertile (CIcorr= 68.06 ± 6.20). Individuals with low wAlbA titer were frequently found among sampled wild males (30%-50% depending on the site and period). ARwP males can be as considered as a very promising tool for suppressing Ae. albopictus. However, crosses between wild males having low wAlbA density and ARwP females may be partially fertile. In the case of local establishment of the transinfected mosquito line, this occurrence may favor the replacement of the wild-type mosquitoes with the AR wP line, thus reducing the long-term efficacy of incompatible insect technique. Various alternative strategies have been discussed to prevent this risk and to exploit Wolbachia as a tool to control Ae. albopictus.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0121813
Pages (from-to)-
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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