The presence of knockdown resistance mutations reduces male mating competitiveness in the major arbovirus vector, Aedes aegypti

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2021 Feb 5;15(2):e0009121. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009121. eCollection 2021 Feb.


Background: The development of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes can have pleiotropic effects on key behaviours such as mating competition and host-location. Documenting these effects is crucial for understanding the dynamics and costs of insecticide resistance and may give researchers an evidence base for promoting vector control programs that aim to restore or conserve insecticide susceptibility.

Methods and findings: We evaluated changes in behaviour in a backcrossed strain of Aedes aegypti, homozygous for two knockdown resistance (kdr) mutations (V1016G and S989P) isolated in an otherwise fully susceptible genetic background. We compared biting activity, host location behaviours, wing beat frequency (WBF) and mating competition between the backcrossed strain, and the fully susceptible and resistant parental strains from which it was derived. The presence of the homozygous kdr mutations did not have significant effects on blood avidity, the time to locate a host, or WBF in females. There was, however, a significant reduction in mean WBF in males and a significant reduction in estimated male mating success (17.3%), associated with the isolated kdr genotype.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate a cost of insecticide resistance associated with an isolated kdr genotype and manifest as a reduction in male mating success. While there was no recorded difference in WBF between the females of our strains, the significant reduction in male WBF recorded in our backcrossed strain might contribute to mate-recognition and mating disruption. These consequences of resistance evolution, especially when combined with other pleiotropic fitness costs that have been previously described, may encourage reversion to susceptibility in the absence of insecticide selection pressures. This offers justification for the implementation of insecticide resistance management strategies based on the rotation or alternation of different insecticide classes in space and time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / drug effects
  • Aedes / genetics*
  • Aedes / virology
  • Animals
  • Arboviruses*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Disease Vectors
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Insecticide Resistance / genetics*
  • Insecticides / pharmacology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mosquito Vectors / drug effects
  • Mosquito Vectors / genetics
  • Mutation*
  • Reproduction / drug effects*


  • Insecticides

Grant support

This study was supported by the Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Disease Institute and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.