Wolbachia (Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae) infects a wide range of arthropods, including several mosquito species. The bacterium is known to induce a plethora of phenotypes in its host, examples being the reproductive phenotype cytoplasmic incompatibility or resistance against infection with arboviruses. The latter is especially relevant when assessing the vector competence of mosquito species for emerging arboviruses. Thus, knowledge of Wolbachia infection status is important for the assessment of vector competence. To facilitate Wolbachia screening in mosquito populations, a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay was developed to enable high-throughput analysis of mosquito samples. Using this assay, the Wolbachia infection status of the two most common Culex mosquito species in Germany, Culex pipiens biotype pipiens Linnaeus (Diptera: Culicidae) and Culex torrentium Martini (Diptera: Culicidae), was assessed. About 93% of all tested C. pipiens biotype pipiens individuals were positive for Wolbachia, whereas none of the C. torrentium samples was found to be infected. Furthermore, other applications of the qPCR assay were explored by assessing a potential link between the levels of Wolbachia and West Nile virus (WNV) infections in German C. pipiens biotype pipiens mosquitoes. No relationship was found between the two variables, indicating that a Wolbachia-induced antiviral phenotype in this mosquito population is not exclusively attributable to the general level of bacterial infection.
Keywords: Culex; West Nile virus; Wolbachia; qPCR.
© 2017 The Authors. Medical and Veterinary Entomology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Entomological Society.