A Wolbachia symbiont in Aedes aegypti disrupts mosquito egg development to a greater extent when mosquitoes feed on nonhuman versus human blood

Conor McMeniman, Grant Hughes, Scott Leslie O'Neill

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A vertebrate bloodmeal is required by female mosquitoes of most species to obtain nutrients for egg maturation. The yellowfever mosquito, Aedes aegypti (L.), feeds predominantly on humans, despite having the capacity to use blood from other hosts for this process. Here, we report that female Ae. aegypti infected with a virulent strain of the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia pipientis (wMelPop) from Drosophila melanogaster (Meigen) have a reduced ability to use blood for egg development. Blood feeding by wMelPop-infected females on mouse, guinea pig, or chicken hosts resulted in a near complete abolishment of reproductive output associated with both a decline in the numbers of eggs oviposited as well as the hatching rate of successfully laid eggs. In contrast, the reproductive output of wMelPop-infected females fed human blood was only mildly affected in comparison to individuals fed animal blood sources. Blood-feeding assays over two reproductive cycles definitively illustrated a nutritional interaction between host blood source and egg development in wMelPop-infected Ae. aegypti. Removal of Wolbachia from mosquitoes using antibiotic treatment rescued egg development on all blood sources. Further investigation of this phenotype may provide new insights into the nutritional basis of mosquito anthropophily.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76 - 84
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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