Costs and benefits of Wolbachia infection in immature Aedes albopictus depend upon sex and competition level

Laurent Gavotte, David R. Mercer, John J. Stoeckle, Stephen L. Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Bacterial endosymbionts induce various effects on hosts and can dramatically impact host fitness and development. An example is provided by obligate, maternally-inherited Wolbachia, which infect a broad range of invertebrates. Wolbachia are capable of altering host reproduction, thereby promoting infection spread. Wolbachia also pose direct physiological costs and benefits to hosts, complicating their categorization as parasites or mutualists. This study examines for an effect of Wolbachia infection in intra-specific larval competition by Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, with the goal of examining for an impact of Wolbachia infection in mixed populations. Similar to prior work examining for an influence of Wolbachia infection on the fitness of A. albopictus in adults, the results presented here support the hypothesized impact of Wolbachia across all life stages, including immatures. The differential competitiveness of infected larvae detected in our experiments indicates that Wolbachia infected A. albopictus females are less competitive relative to uninfected females when competing under highly competitive conditions. In contrast, under low competitive pressures, infected females experience higher survivorship. Thus, Wolbachia infection shifts from parasitism to mutualism as a function of developmental conditions. Results are discussed in relation to the invasion and persistence of Wolbachia in A. albopictus populations. The results are important to the evolution of stable Wolbachia symbioses, including Wolbachia invasion of an uninfected population. The resulting infection dynamics that occur in an infected population are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-346
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We greatly appreciate the technical assistance provided by James Mains and statistical advice from Rhonda D. VanDyke. This research was supported by NIH/NIAID R01-AI067434 and R01-AI051533.


  • Development
  • Endosymbiont
  • Fitness
  • Intra-specific competition
  • Wolbachia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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