The most successful strategy against mosquito borne diseases is the biological control of dengue transmission by the use of the naturally occurring insect bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia. Introducing specific strains of Wolbachia in Ae. aegypti mosquitoes, induces an upgrade of the immuno-competence and a life shortening of the
host which translate in the inability of transmitting pathogens. This strategy has been successfully tested in small field trials, after which has been successfully translated into large sites in several countries by the Eliminate Dengue Program. The broader application of the program in addition to limiting the transmission of dengue and including other mosquitoes besides the Aedes aegypti has allowed the program to become a global non-profit initiative: the World Mosquito Program.
This approach may have some limitations in relation to microbial competition between Wolbachia and other components of the mosquito microbiota as for example the gram-negative bacterium Asaia.
Consequently MICENE first aim is to answer to the question: Do specific strains of Asaia interfere with Wolbachia-based mosquito control approaches?
We will study the interactions between Wolbachia and Asaia since it has been demonstrated that in mosquito the two symbionts can compete while in other insects can coexist. We will explore how different strains of the two symbionts in different mosquito species may turn in competition or in compatibility between them.
The large diversity of Wolbachia-Asaia strain combinations able to infect natural populations of mosquitoes may offer a relevant opportunity to select suitable phenotypes for the suppression of pathogen transmission and for the manipulation of host reproduction. MICENE’s second aim is to describe the virome in different mosquito species.