Assessing quality of life-shortening Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the field based on capture rates and morphometric assessments

Yeap, Heng Lin, Axford, Jason K., Popovici, Jean, Endersby, Nancy M., Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Iñaki, Ritchie, Scott A., and Hoffmann, Ary A. (2014) Assessing quality of life-shortening Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the field based on capture rates and morphometric assessments. Parasites & Vectors, 7 (1). 58. pp. 1-13.

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Background: Recent releases have been carried out with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the wMelPop mosquito cell-line adapted (wMelPop-CLA) strain of Wolbachia. This infection introduced from Drosophila provides strong blockage of dengue and other arboviruses but also has large fitness costs in laboratory tests. The releases were used to evaluate the fitness of released infected mosquitoes, and (following termination of releases) to test for any effects of wMelPop-CLA on wing size and shape when mosquitoes were reared under field conditions.

Methods: We monitored gravid females via double sticky traps to assess the reproductive success of wMelPop-CLA-infected females and also sampled the overall mosquito population post-release using Biogent Sentinel traps. Morphometric analyses were used to evaluate infection effects on wing shape as well as size.

Results: Oviposition success as assessed through double sticky traps was unrelated to size of released mosquitoes. However, released mosquitoes with lower wing loading were more successful. Furthermore, wMelPop-CLA-infected mosquitoes had 38.3% of the oviposition success of uninfected mosquitoes based on the predicted infection frequency after release. Environmental conditions affected wing shape and particularly size across time in uninfected mosquitoes, but not in naturally-reared wMelPop-CLA-infected mosquitoes. Although the overall size and shape do not differ between naturally-reared wMelPop-CLA-infected and uninfected mosquitoes, the infected mosquitoes tended to have smaller wings than uninfected mosquitoes during the cooler November in comparison to December.

Conclusion: These results confirm the lower fitness of wMelPop-CLA infection under field conditions, helping to explain challenges associated with a successful invasion by this strain. In the long run, invasion may depend on releasing strains carrying insecticide resistance or egg desiccation resistance, combined with an active pre-release population suppression program.

Item ID: 33875
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1756-3305
Keywords: Wolbachia, Aedes aegypti, size, shape, quality
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© 2014 Yeap et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Funders: Alfred-Nicholas Fellowship, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC), Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2014 10:00
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1108 Medical Microbiology > 110899 Medical Microbiology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1108 Medical Microbiology > 110804 Medical Virology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920404 Disease Distribution and Transmission (incl. Surveillance and Response) @ 100%
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