Dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses are pathogens with an increasing global impact. In the absence of an approved vaccine or therapy, their management relies on controlling the mosquito vectors. But traditional controls are inadequate, and the range of invasive species such as Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito) is expanding. Genetically modified mosquitoes are being tested, but their use has encountered regulatory barriers and public opposition in some countries. Wolbachia bacteria can cause a form of conditional sterility, which can provide an alternative to genetic modification or irradiation. It is unknown however, whether openly released, artificially infected male Ae. albopictus can competitively mate and sterilize females at a level adequate to suppress a field population. Also, the unintended establishment of Wolbachia at the introduction site could result from horizontal transmission or inadvertent female release. In 2014, an Experimental Use Permit from the United States Environmental Protection Agency approved a pilot field trial in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. Here, we present data showing localized reduction of both egg hatch and adult female numbers. The artificial Wolbachia type was not observed to establish in the field. The results are discussed in relation to the applied use of Wolbachia-infected males as a biopesticide to suppress field populations of Ae. albopictus.
|Published - Sep 23 2016
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Katherine Evans, Jeannie Haak and Karen Dobson for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health [AI-098179] and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development [KSTC-184-512-12-142, KSTC-184-512-14-198].
© The Author(s) 2016.
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