Artificial triple Wolbachia infection in Aedes albopictus yields a new pattern of unidirectional cytoplasmic incompatibility

Yuqing Fu, Laurent Gavotte, David R. Mercer, Stephen L. Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Obligately intracellular Wolbachia bacteria infect numerous invertebrates and often manipulate host reproduction to facilitate the spread of infection. An example of reproductive manipulation is Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), which occurs commonly in insects. This CI has been the focus both of basic scientific studies of naturally occurring invasion events and of applied investigations on the use of Wolbachia as a vehicle to drive desired genotypes into insect populations ("gene drive" or "population replacement" strategies). The latter application requires an ability to generate artificial infections that cause a pattern of unidirectional incompatibility with the targeted host population. A suggested target of population replacement strategies is the mosquito Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito), an important invasive pest and disease vector. Aedes albopictus individuals are naturally "superinfected" with two Wolbachia types: wAlbA and wAlbB. Thus, generating a strain that is unidirectionally incompatible with field populations requires the introduction of an additional infection into the preexisting superinfection. Although prior reports demonstrate an ability to transfer Wolbachia infections to A. albopictus artificially, including both intra-and interspecific Wolbachia transfers, previous efforts have not generated a strain capable of invading natural populations. Here we describe the generation of a stable triple infection by introducing Wolbachia wRi from Drosophila simulans into a naturally superinfected A. albopictus strain. The triple-infected strain displays a pattern of unidirectional incompatibility with the naturally infected strain. This unidirectional CI, combined with a high fidelity of maternal inheritance and low fecundity effects, suggests that the artificial cytotype could serve as an appropriate vehicle for gene drive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5887-5891
Number of pages5
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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