The rapid spread of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas raised many questions about the role of Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes in transmission, in addition to the key role played by the vector Aedes aegypti. Here we analysed the competence of Cx. quinquefasciatus (with or without Wolbachia endosymbionts) for a ZIKV isolate. We also examined the induction of RNA interference pathways after viral challenge and the production of small virus-derived RNAs. We did not observe any infection nor such small virus-derived RNAs, regardless of the presence or absence of Wolbachia. Thus, Cx. quinquefasciatus does not support ZIKV replication and Wolbachia is not involved in producing this phenotype. In short, these mosquitoes are very unlikely to play a role in transmission of ZIKV.
Keywords: Culex spp. mosquitoes; Zika virus; mosquito; replication; transmission.