Wolbachia are maternally inherited intracellular bacterial symbionts that are estimated to infect more than 60% of all insect species. While Wolbachia is commonly found in many mosquitoes it is absent from the species that are considered to be of major importance for the transmission of human pathogens. The successful introduction of a life-shortening strain of Wolbachia into the dengue vector Aedes aegypti that halves adult lifespan has recently been reported. Here we show that this same Wolbachia infection also directly inhibits the ability of a range of pathogens to infect this mosquito species. The effect is Wolbachia strain specific and relates to Wolbachia priming of the mosquito innate immune system and potentially competition for limiting cellular resources required for pathogen replication. We suggest that this Wolbachia-mediated pathogen interference may work synergistically with the life-shortening strategy proposed previously to provide a powerful approach for the control of insect transmitted diseases.
Copyright 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.