"Modelling the ecological dynamics of mosquito populations with multiple co‑circulating Wolbachia strains"
Wolbachia intracellular bacteria successfully reduce the transmissibility of arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) when introduced into virus-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes. Despite the progress made by introducing Wolbachia bacteria into the Aedes aegypti wild-type population to control arboviral infections, reports suggest that heat-induced loss-of-Wolbachia-infection as a result of climate change may reverse these gains. Novel, supplemental Wolbachia strains that are more resilient to increased temperatures may circumvent these concerns, and could potentially act synergistically with existing variants. In this work, we model the ecological dynamics among three distinct mosquito (sub)populations: a wild-type population free of any Wolbachia infection; an invading population infected with a particular Wolbachia strain; and a second invading population infected with a distinct Wolbachia strain from that of the first invader. We explore how the range of possible characteristics of each Wolbachia strain impacts mosquito prevalence. Our results show that releasing mosquitoes with two different strains of Wolbachia did not increase their prevalence, compared with a single-strain Wolbachia-infected mosquito introduction and only delayed Wolbachia dominance.
Additional authors: Prof Emma McBryde - Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University. Dr Michael Meehan - Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University. Dr Adeshina Adekunle - Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University.