Multiple Wolbachia strains provide comparative levels of protection against dengue virus infection in Aedes aegypti
The insect bacterium Wolbachia pipientis is being introgressed into Aedes aegypti populations as an intervention against the transmission of medically important arboviruses. Here we compare Ae. aegypti mosquitoes infected with wMelCS or wAlbB to the widely used wMel Wolbachia strain on an Australian nuclear genetic background for their susceptibility to infection by dengue virus (DENV) genotypes spanning all four serotypes. All Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes were more resistant to intrathoracic
... t to intrathoracic DENV challenge than their wildtype counterparts. Blocking of DENV replication was greatest by wMelCS. Conversely, wAlbB-infected mosquitoes were more susceptible to whole body infection than wMel and wMelCS. We extended these findings via mosquito oral feeding experiments, using viremic blood from 36 acute, hospitalised dengue cases in Vietnam, additionally including wMel and wildtype mosquitoes on a Vietnamese nuclear genetic background. As above, wAlbB was less effective at blocking DENV replication in the abdomen compared to wMel and wMelCS. The transmission potential of all Wolbachia-infected mosquito lines (measured by the presence/absence of infectious DENV in mosquito saliva) after 14 days, was significantly reduced compared to their wildtype counterparts, and lowest for wMelCS and wAlbB. These data support the use of wAlbB and wMelCS strains for introgression field trials and the biocontrol of DENV transmission. Furthermore, despite observing significant differences in transmission potential between wildtype mosquitoes from Australia and Vietnam, no difference was observed between wMel-infected mosquitoes from each background suggesting that Wolbachia may override any underlying variation in DENV transmission potential.