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Identification and molecular characterization of Wolbachia strains in natural populations of Aedes albopictus in China

  • Hu, Yaping1, 2, 3
  • Xi, Zhiyong4
  • Liu, Xiaobo1
  • Wang, Jun1
  • Guo, Yuhong1
  • Ren, Dongsheng1
  • Wu, Haixia1
  • Wang, Xiaohua5
  • Chen, Bin3
  • Liu, Qiyong1
  • 1 National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, CDC China, Beijing, China , Beijing (China)
  • 2 Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China, Nanjing, China , Nanjing (China)
  • 3 Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing, China , Chongqing (China)
  • 4 Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China , Guangzhou (China)
  • 5 Haikou Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Haikou, China , Haikou (China)
Published Article
Parasites & Vectors
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Jan 14, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13071-020-3899-4
Springer Nature


BackgroundAedes albopictus is naturally infected with Wolbachia spp., maternally transmitted bacteria that influence the reproduction of hosts. However, little is known regarding the prevalence of infection, multiple infection status, and the relationship between Wolbachia density and dengue outbreaks in different regions. Here, we assessed Wolbachia infection in natural populations of Ae. albopictus in China and compared Wolbachia density between regions with similar climates, without dengue and with either imported or local dengue.ResultsTo explore the prevalence of Wolbachia infection, Wolbachia DNA was detected in mosquito samples via PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA gene and the surface protein gene wsp. We found that 93.36% of Ae. albopictus in China were positive for Wolbachia. After sequencing gatB, coxA, hcpA, ftsZ, fbpA and wsp genes of Wolbachia strains, we identified a new sequence type (ST) of wAlbB (464/465). Phylogenetic analysis indicated that wAlbA and wAlbB strains formed a cluster with strains from other mosquitoes in a wsp-based maximum likelihood (ML) tree. However, in a ML tree based on multilocus sequence typing (MLST), wAlbB STs (464/465) did not form a cluster with Wolbachia strains from other mosquitoes. To better understand the association between Wolbachia spp. and dengue infection, the prevalence of Wolbachia in Ae. albopictus from different regions (containing local dengue cases, imported dengue cases and no dengue cases) was determined. We found that the prevalence of Wolbachia was lower in regions with only imported dengue cases.ConclusionsThe natural prevalence of Wolbachia infections in China was much lower than in other countries or regions. The phylogenetic relationships among Wolbachia spp. isolated from field-collected Ae. albopictus reflected the presence of dominant and stable strains. However, wAlbB (464/465) and Wolbachia strains did not form a clade with Wolbachia strains from other mosquitoes. Moreover, lower densities of Wolbachia in regions with only imported dengue cases suggest a relationship between fluctuations in Wolbachia density in field-collected Ae. albopictus and the potential for dengue invasion into these regions.

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