A virulent Wolbachia infection decreases the viability of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti during periods of embryonic quiescence

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010 Jul 13;4(7):e748. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000748.


A new approach for dengue control has been proposed that relies on life-shortening strains of the obligate intracellular bacterium Wolbachia pipientis to modify mosquito population age structure and reduce pathogen transmission. Previously we reported the stable transinfection of the major dengue vector Aedes aegypti with a life-shortening Wolbachia strain (wMelPop-CLA) from the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster. Here, we report a further characterization of the phenotypic effects of this virulent Wolbachia infection on several life-history traits of Ae. aegypti. Minor costs of wMelPop-CLA infection for pre-imaginal survivorship, development and adult size were found. However, we discovered that the wMelPop-CLA infection dramatically decreased the viability of desiccated Ae. aegypti eggs over time. Similarly, the reproductive fitness of wMelPop-CLA infected Ae. aegypti females declined with age. These results reveal a general pattern associated with wMelPop-CLA induced pathogenesis in this mosquito species, where host fitness costs increase during aging of both immature and adult life-history stages. In addition to influencing the invasion dynamics of this particular Wolbachia strain, we suggest that the negative impact of wMelPop-CLA on embryonic quiescence may have applied utility as a tool to reduce mosquito population size in regions with pronounced dry seasons or in regions that experience cool winters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / microbiology
  • Ovum / microbiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Wolbachia / isolation & purification
  • Wolbachia / pathogenicity*