Comparison of stable and transient Wolbachia infection models in Aedes aegypti to block dengue and West Nile viruses

Dirk Albert Joubert, Scott L. O’Neill

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Pathogen replication and transmission in Wolbachia infected insects are currently studied using three Wolbachia infection systems: naturally infected Wolbachia hosts, hosts transinfected with Wolbachia (stably maintained and inherited infections) and hosts transiently infected with Wolbachia. All three systems have been used to test the effect of Wolbachia on mosquito transmitted pathogens such as dengue virus (DENV), West Nile virus (WNV) and Plasmodium. From these studies it is becoming increasingly clear that the interaction between a particular pathogen and Wolbachia is heavily influenced by the host-Wolbachia interaction and the model of infection. In particular, there is some evidence that under very specific conditions, Wolbachia can enhance pathogen infection in some hosts. In this study, we compared the effect of Wolbachia in two infection models (stable transinfected and transiently infected) on the replication, infection- and transmission rates of two flaviviruses, DENV and WNV (Kunjin strain). Our results indicate that Wolbachia had similar blocking effects in both stable and transient models of infection, however, the magnitude of the blocking effect was significantly lower in mosquitoes transiently infected with Wolbachia. More importantly, no evidence was found for any enhancement of either DENV or WNV (Kunjin strain) infection in Ae. aegypti infected with Wolbachia, supporting a role for Wolbachia as an effective and safe means for restricting transmission of these viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0005275
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2017

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