BackgroundDengue virus (DENV) is primarily vectored by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, and is estimated to cause 390 million human infections annually. A novel method for DENV control involves stable transinfection of Ae. aegypti with the common insect endosymbiont Wolbachia, which mediates an antiviral effect. However, the mechanism by which Wolbachia reduces the susceptibility of Ae. aegypti to DENV is not fully understood. In this study we assessed the potential of resident microbiota, which can play important roles in insect physiology and immune responses, to affect Wolbachia-mediated DENV blocking.
Methodology/findingsThe microbiome of Ae. aegypti stably infected with Wolbachia strain wMel was compared to that of Ae. aegypti without Wolbachia, using 16s rDNA profiling. Our results indicate that although Wolbachia affected the relative abundance of several genera, the microbiome of both the Wolbachia-infected and uninfected mosquitoes was dominated by Elizabethkingia and unclassified Enterobacteriaceae. To assess the potential of the resident microbiota to affect the Wolbachia-mediated antiviral effect, we used antibiotic treatment before infection with DENV by blood-meal. In spite of a significant shift in the microbiome composition in response to the antibiotics, we detected no effect of antibiotic treatment on DENV infection rates, or on the DENV load of infected mosquitoes.
Conclusions/significanceOur findings indicate that stable infection with Wolbachia strain wMel produces few effects on the microbiome of laboratory-reared Ae. aegypti. Moreover, our findings suggest that the microbiome can be significantly altered without affecting the fundamental DENV blocking phenotype in these mosquitoes. Since Ae. aegypti are likely to encounter diverse microbiota in the field, this is a particularly important result in the context of using Wolbachia as a method for DENV control.