Background: The yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti is the major vector of dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and Chikungunya viruses. Worldwide vector control is largely based on insecticide treatments but, unfortunately, vector control programs are facing operational challenges due to mosquitoes becoming resistant to commonly used insecticides. In Southeast Asia, resistance of Ae. aegypti to chemical insecticides has been documented in several countries but no data regarding insecticide resistance has been reported in Laos. To fill this gap, we assessed the insecticide resistance of 11 Ae. aegypti populations to larvicides and adulticides used in public health operations in the country. We also investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with resistance, including target site mutations and detoxification enzymes putatively involved in metabolic resistance.
Methods and results: Bioassays on adults and larvae collected in five provinces revealed various levels of resistance to organophosphates (malathion and temephos), organochlorine (DDT) and pyrethroids (permethrin and deltamethrin). Synergist bioassays showed a significant increased susceptibility of mosquitoes to insecticides after exposure to detoxification enzyme inhibitors. Biochemical assays confirmed these results by showing significant elevated activities of cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450), glutathione S-transferases (GST) and carboxylesterases (CCE) in adults. Two kdr mutations, V1016G and F1534C, were detected by qPCR at low and high frequency, respectively, in all populations tested. A significant negative association between the two kdr mutations was detected. No significant association between kdr mutations frequency (for both 1534C and 1016G) and survival rate to DDT or permethrin (P > 0.05) was detected. Gene Copy Number Variations (CNV) were detected for particular detoxification enzymes. At the population level, the presence of CNV affecting the carboxylesterase CCEAE3A and the two cytochrome P450 CYP6BB2 and CYP6P12 were significantly correlated to insecticide resistance.
Conclusions: These results suggest that both kdr mutations and metabolic resistance mechanisms are present in Laos but their impact on phenotypic resistance may differ in proportion at the population or individual level. Molecular analyses suggest that CNV affecting CCEAE3A previously associated with temephos resistance is also associated with malathion resistance while CNV affecting CYP6BB2 and CYP6P12 are associated with pyrethroid and possibly DDT resistance. The presence of high levels of insecticide resistance in the main arbovirus vector in Laos is worrying and may have important implications for dengue vector control in the country.