Wolbachia-based strategies to control insect pests and disease vectors

Corey L. Brelsfoard, Stephen L. Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Wolbachia are a group of obligate intracellular maternally inherited bacteria that have been found in several arthropod groups including spiders, terrestrial crustaceans, and insects, in addition to filarial nematodes. It has been estimated that >65% of insect species harbor Wolbachia, making it one of the most ubiquitous intracellular bacteria discovered to date. In arthropods, Wolbachia behave as a reproductive parasite by manipulating host reproduction to enhance their vertical transmission. One reproductive modification, cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), has received attention for use in applied strategies targeting economically important insect pests and disease vectors. The two proposed CI-based strategies are: (1) population suppression, analogous to the sterile insect technique (SIT) and (2) population replacement, using Wolbachia as a vehicle to drive desirable phenotypes into natural populations. Strategies are based upon the use of both naturally occurring infections and genetically modified Wolbachia strains. In this review, we summarize recent developments in Wolbachia research, specifically within the context of applied Wolbachia-based strategies used to suppress or modify natural insect populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Biological control
  • Cytoplasmic incompatibility
  • Population replacement
  • Sterile insect technique
  • Wolbachia pipientis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


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