Persistent deleterious effects of a deleterious Wolbachia infection.
ABSTRACT: Wolbachia are being used to reduce dengue transmission by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes around the world. To date releases have mostly involved Wolbachia strains with limited fitness effects but strains with larger fitness costs could be used to suppress mosquito populations. However, such infections are expected to evolve towards decreased deleterious effects. Here we investigate potential evolutionary changes in the wMelPop infection transferred from Drosophila melanogaster to Aedes aegypti more than ten years (~120 generations) ago. We show that most deleterious effects of this infection have persisted despite strong selection to ameliorate them. The wMelPop-PGYP infection is difficult to maintain in laboratory colonies, likely due to the persistent deleterious effects coupled with occasional maternal transmission leakage. Furthermore, female mosquitoes can be scored incorrectly as infected due to transmission of Wolbachia through mating. Infection loss in colonies was not associated with evolutionary changes in the nuclear background. These findings suggest that Wolbachia transinfections with deleterious effects may have stable phenotypes which could ensure their long-term effectiveness if released in natural populations to reduce population size.
Project description:Wolbachia endosymbionts are potentially useful tools for suppressing disease transmission by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes because Wolbachia can interfere with the transmission of dengue and other viruses as well as causing deleterious effects on their mosquito hosts. Most recent research has focused on the wMel infection, but other infections also influence viral transmission and may spread in natural populations. Here, we focus on the wAlbB infection in an Australian outbred background and show that this infection has many features that facilitate its invasion into natural populations including strong cytoplasmic incompatibility, a lack of effect on larval development, an equivalent mating success to uninfected males and perfect maternal transmission fidelity. On the other hand, the infection has deleterious effects when eggs are held in a dried state, falling between wMel and the more virulent wMelPop Wolbachia strains. The impact of this infection on lifespan also appears to be intermediate, consistent with the observation that this infection has a titer in adults between wMel and wMelPop. Population cage experiments indicate that the wAlbB infection establishes in cages when introduced at a frequency of 22%, suggesting that this strain could be successfully introduced into populations and subsequently persist and spread.
Project description:Dengue is the most common arboviral infection of humans and is a public health burden in more than 100 countries. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes stably infected with strains of the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia are resistant to dengue virus (DENV) infection and are being tested in field trials. To mimic field conditions, we experimentally assessed the vector competence of A. aegypti carrying the Wolbachia strains wMel and wMelPop after challenge with viremic blood from dengue patients. We found that wMelPop conferred strong resistance to DENV infection of mosquito abdomen tissue and largely prevented disseminated infection. wMel conferred less resistance to infection of mosquito abdomen tissue, but it did reduce the prevalence of mosquitoes with infectious saliva. A mathematical model of DENV transmission incorporating the dynamics of viral infection in humans and mosquitoes was fitted to the data collected. Model predictions suggested that wMel would reduce the basic reproduction number, R0, of DENV transmission by 66 to 75%. Our results suggest that establishment of wMelPop-infected A. aegypti at a high frequency in a dengue-endemic setting would result in the complete abatement of DENV transmission. Establishment of wMel-infected A. aegypti is also predicted to have a substantial effect on transmission that would be sufficient to eliminate dengue in low or moderate transmission settings but may be insufficient to achieve complete control in settings where R0 is high. These findings develop a framework for selecting Wolbachia strains for field releases and for calculating their likely impact.
Project description:Wolbachia as an endosymbiont is widespread in insects and other arthropods and is best known for reproductive manipulations of the host. Recently, it has been shown that wMelpop and wMel strains of Wolbachia inhibit the replication of several RNA viruses, including dengue virus, and other vector-borne pathogens (e.g., Plasmodium and filarial nematodes) in mosquitoes, providing an alternative approach to limit the transmission of vector-borne pathogens. In this study, we tested the effect of Wolbachia on the replication of West Nile Virus (WNV). Surprisingly, accumulation of the genomic RNA of WNV for all three strains of WNV tested (New York 99, Kunjin, and New South Wales) was enhanced in Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti cells (Aag2). However, the amount of secreted virus was significantly reduced in the presence of Wolbachia. Intrathoracic injections showed that replication of WNV in A. aegypti mosquitoes infected with wMel strain of Wolbachia was not inhibited, whereas wMelPop strain of Wolbachia significantly reduced the replication of WNV in mosquitoes. Further, when wMelPop mosquitoes were orally fed with WNV, virus infection, transmission, and dissemination rates were very low in Wolbachia-free mosquitoes and were completely inhibited in the presence of Wolbachia. The results suggest that (i) despite the enhancement of viral genomic RNA replication in the Wolbachia-infected cell line the production of secreted virus was significantly inhibited, (ii) the antiviral effect in intrathoracically infected mosquitoes depends on the strain of Wolbachia, and (iii) replication of the virus in orally fed mosquitoes was completely inhibited in wMelPop strain of Wolbachia.
Project description:Mosquitoes are vectors of many serious pathogens in tropical and sub-tropical countries. Current control strategies almost entirely rely upon insecticides, which increasingly face the problems of high cost, increasing mosquito resistance and negative effects on non-target organisms. Alternative strategies include the proposed use of inherited life-shortening agents, such as the Wolbachia bacterium. By shortening mosquito vector lifespan, Wolbachia could potentially reduce the vectorial capacity of mosquito populations. We have recently been able to stably transinfect Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the life-shortening Wolbachia strain wMelPop, and are assessing various aspects of its interaction with the mosquito host to determine its likely impact on pathogen transmission as well as its potential ability to invade A. aegypti populations.Here we have examined the probing behavior of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in an attempt to understand both the broader impact of Wolbachia infection on mosquito biology and, in particular, vectorial capacity. The probing behavior of wMelPop-infected mosquitoes at four adult ages was examined and compared to uninfected controls during video-recorded feeding trials on a human hand. Wolbachia-positive insects, from 15 days of age, showed a drastic increase in the time spent pre-probing and probing relative to uninfected controls. Two other important features for blood feeding, saliva volume and apyrase content of saliva, were also studied.As A. aegypti infected with wMelPop age, they show increasing difficulty in completing the process of blood feeding effectively and efficiently. Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes on average produced smaller volumes of saliva that still contained the same amount of apyrase activity as uninfected mosquitoes. These effects on blood feeding behavior may reduce vectorial capacity and point to underlying physiological changes in Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.
Project description:The over-replicating wMelPop strain of the endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis has recently been shown to be capable of inducing immune upregulation and inhibition of pathogen transmission in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. In order to examine whether comparable effects would be seen in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae, transient somatic infections of wMelPop were created by intrathoracic inoculation. Upregulation of six selected immune genes was observed compared to controls, at least two of which (LRIM1 and TEP1) influence the development of malaria parasites. A stably infected An. gambiae cell line also showed increased expression of malaria-related immune genes. Highly significant reductions in Plasmodium infection intensity were observed in the wMelPop-infected cohort, and using gene knockdown, evidence for the role of TEP1 in this phenotype was obtained. Comparing the levels of upregulation in somatic and stably inherited wMelPop infections in Ae. aegypti revealed that levels of upregulation were lower in the somatic infections than in the stably transinfected line; inhibition of development of Brugia filarial nematodes was nevertheless observed in the somatic wMelPop infected females. Thus we consider that the effects observed in An. gambiae are also likely to be more pronounced if stably inherited wMelPop transinfections can be created, and that somatic infections of Wolbachia provide a useful model for examining effects on pathogen development or dissemination. The data are discussed with respect to the comparative effects on malaria vectorial capacity of life shortening and direct inhibition of Plasmodium development that can be produced by Wolbachia.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The mosquito Aedes aegypti was recently transinfected with a life-shortening strain of the endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis (wMelPop) as the first step in developing a biocontrol strategy for dengue virus transmission. In addition to life-shortening, the wMelPop-infected mosquitoes also exhibit increased daytime activity and metabolic rates. Here we sought to quantify the blood-feeding behaviour of Wolbachia-infected females as an indicator of any virulence or energetic drain associated with Wolbachia infection. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In a series of blood-feeding trials in response to humans, we have shown that Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes do not differ in their response time to humans, but that as they age they obtain fewer and smaller blood meals than Wolbachia-uninfected controls. Lastly, we observed a behavioural characteristic in the Wolbachia infected mosquitoes best described as a "bendy" proboscis that may explain the decreased biting success. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Taken together the evidence suggests that wMelPop infection may be causing tissue damage in a manner that intensifies with mosquito age and that leads to reduced blood-feeding success. These behavioural changes require further investigation with respect to a possible physiological mechanism and their role in vectorial capacity of the insect. The selective decrease of feeding success in older mosquitoes may act synergistically with other Wolbachia-associated traits including life-shortening and viral protection in biocontrol strategies.
Project description:Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria are currently being released for arbovirus suppression around the world. Their potential to invade populations and persist will depend on interactions with environmental conditions, particularly as larvae are often exposed to fluctuating and extreme temperatures in the field. We reared Ae. aegypti larvae infected with different types of Wolbachia (wMel, wAlbB and wMelPop-CLA) under diurnal cyclical temperatures. Rearing wMel and wMelPop-CLA-infected larvae at 26-37°C reduced the expression of cytoplasmic incompatibility, a reproductive manipulation induced by Wolbachia. We also observed a sharp reduction in the density of Wolbachia in adults. Furthermore, the wMel and wMelPop-CLA infections were not transmitted to the next generation when mosquitoes were exposed to 26-37°C across all life stages. In contrast, the wAlbB infection was maintained at a high density, exhibited complete cytoplasmic incompatibility, and was transmitted from mother to offspring with a high fidelity under this temperature cycle. These findings have implications for the potential success of Wolbachia interventions across different environments and highlight the importance of temperature control in rearing.
Project description:Wolbachia inherited bacteria are able to invade insect populations using cytoplasmic incompatibility and provide new strategies for controlling mosquito-borne tropical diseases, such as dengue. The overreplicating wMelPop strain was recently shown to strongly inhibit the replication of dengue virus when introduced into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, as well as to stimulate chronic immune up-regulation. Here we show that stable introduction of the wMel strain of Drosophila melanogaster into Aedes albopictus, a vector of dengue and other arboviruses, abolished the transmission capacity of dengue virus-challenged mosquitoes. Immune up-regulation was observed in the transinfected line, but at a much lower level than that previously found for transinfected Ae. aegypti. Transient infection experiments suggest that this difference is related to Ae. albopictus immunotolerance of Wolbachia, rather than to the Wolbachia strain used. This study provides an example of strong pathogen inhibition in a naturally Wolbachia-infected mosquito species, demonstrating that this inhibition is not limited to naturally naïve species, and suggests that the Wolbachia strain is more important than host background for viral inhibition. Complete bidirectional cytoplasmic incompatibility was observed with WT strains infected with the naturally occurring Ae. albopictus Wolbachia, and this provides a mechanism for introducing wMel into natural populations of this species.
Project description:The endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia pipientis (wMel strain) has been successfully established in several populations of Aedes aegypti, the primary dengue vector. The virulent Wolbachia strain wMelPop is known to cause several pathological impacts (increased egg mortality, life shortening, etc.) reducing overall fitness in the mosquito Ae. aegypti. Increased egg mortality could substantially reduce egg banks in areas with a lengthy monsoonal dry season, and be employed to eliminate local populations. We tested this application under semi-field cage conditions. First, we determined that wMelPop infection significantly reduced the survival of desiccation-resistant eggs of the dengue vector Ae. aegypti, with shade and temperature having a significant impact; nearly all wMelPop-infected eggs failed to hatch after 6 and 10 weeks in summer and winter conditions, respectively. In laboratory selection experiments we found that egg desiccation resistance can be increased by selection, and that this effect of wMelPop infection is due to the nuclear background of the host rather than Wolbachia. We then conducted an invasion of wMelPop within a semi-field cage using sustained weekly releases of wMelPop infected mosquitoes, with fixation achieved after 9 weeks. The egg populations wMelPop infected and an uninfected control were then subjected to a simulated prolonged monsoonal dry season (2.5 months) before flooding to induce hatching. The wMelPop infected eggs suffered significantly greater mortality than the controls, with only 0.67% and 4.35% of respective infected and uninfected eggs held in 99% shade hatching after 80 days. These studies suggest that wMelPop could be used to locally eliminate populations of Ae. aegypti that are exposed to prolonged dry conditions, particularly if combined with vector control.
Project description:Wolbachia is a vertically transmitted intracellular bacteria that infect most than 60% of insect species. The strains wMelPop and wMel were introduced in the dengue virus vector Aedes aegypti, naturally not infected by Wolbachia. Recently, it was shown that those two strains inhibit dengue virus replication into their new host, A. aegypti (Moreira et al. 2009 and Walker et al. in preparation). The aim of this project is to look at the transcriptional response of Aedes aegypti to infection with wMel and wMelPop and try to find some genes or pathway potentially involved in the viral interference.Four laboratory lines of A. aegypti were used throughout this study. The PGYP1 and Mel2 lines were generated by transinfection with wMelPop and wMel strains respectively. PGYP1.tet and Mel2tet lines were treated with the antibiotic tetracycline and cured from Wolbachia infection (McMeniman et al., 2009 and Walker et al in preparation). The Mosquitoes were reared under standard laboratory conditions (26 ± 2 °C, 12:12 light/dark cycle, 75% relative humidity). Mosquito larvae were fed 0.1mg/larvae of TetraMin Tropical Tablets once a day. Adults were transferred to cages (measuring 30 x 30 x 30 cm) at emergence at 400 individuals per cage. Adults were supplied with a basic diet of 10% sucrose solution (Turley et al., 2009).