Application of Wolbachia in Invertebrate Vector Control

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By: Chinagozi Ugwu


The race to decrease or even totally eliminate the persistence of vector-borne infectious diseases has been ongoing for years if not generations. A parasitic new champion has been found in the endosymbiont bacterium by the name of Wolbachia pipientis. The α-proteobacteria Wolbachia is a gram-negative intracellular parasite. Wolbachia is naturally present in over 20% of all insects. It was first discovered in the ovaries of Culex pipiens mosquito. Wolbachia forms either an obligate or a facultative relationship with its host and these interactions have many effects. This endosymbiont bacterium is in the family of Rickettsiacea, however, Wolbachia has not been found to be directly pathogenic to humans. The natural transmission of Wolbachia can be either vertical or horizontal. Transmission of this bacterial infection to offspring occurs vertically while, members of other species become infected horizantally.

In the fruit fly, Drosphila, Wolbachia pipientis is transmitted through the fly’s egg cells. Wolbachia has many physiological and reproductive effects, which may reduce the males of the species. Wolbachia also feminize infected males so that they can produce eggs with bacterial cells. Many invertebrates are infected by Wolbachia and the bacteria’s success may be credited to the diverse phenotypes that result from infection. The phenotypes range from mutualism to parasitism. Wolbachia has the ability to change chromosomal sex determination, kill males selectively, influence sperm competition and generate cytoplasmic incompatibility in early embryo, etc. Inheritance by maternally transmitting Wolbachia through cytoplasm of eggs is also an effective infection pathway used by the bacteria.

In arthropods and many other invertebrates, Wolbachia can modify host reproduction in a variety of ways such as: reproductive incompatibility in most species; thelytokous parthenogenesis in haplodiploid species, male-killing in several insect and feminization of genetic males in isopod crustaceans. The facultative endosymbiont relationship between Wolbachia and their host allow them to persist in host populations but Wolbachia are hardly ever found to be beneficial to their. Recently, Wolbachia, was found to be medically important vector borne infections. These bacteria could be used for population replacement and suppression of vector organisms such Aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads dengue and yellow fever, Culex pipiens mosquito which spreads West Nile Virus and anopheles mosquito that act as the malaria and filarial vectors.

Physiological and reproductive Effects of Wolbachia

Include some current research in each topic, with at least one figure showing data.

Section 2

Include some current research in each topic, with at least one figure showing data.

Pathogen Exclusion in Vector Mosquitoes with Wolbachia

Mosquitoes are flying insects in the Culicidae family, with more than 2000 different species. The males and females mosquitoes both feed on nectar but the females of some species of mosquito are capable of sucking blood from humans and animals. The hematophagic activity of female mosquitoes is essential for production of eggs and has made them one of the deadliest known disease vectors that claim millions of lives each year. [1][2]

Mosquitoes act as vectors for a variety of parasites and pathogens. Many mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Malaria, Yellow fever are transmitted by different species of mosquitoes. Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever are all caused by a family of viruses called Flaviviridae. Culex pipiens mosquitoes act as the primary vectors for the West Nile Virus in America while female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the disease vectors that transmit Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever. The vector-borne infectious disease, malaria can be caused by one of four types of Plasmodium parasites that can infect humans, with Plasmodium falciparum causing the most dangerous infection. Malaria is transmitted by infected female Anopheles mosquito. [3]

Include some current research in each topic, with at least one figure showing data.


Overall paper length should be 3,000 words, with at least 3 figures.


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22. Parthenogenesis

23. Mosquito-borne diseases

24. Mosquito

25. Wolbachia Website

26. Dengue Fever News

Edited by student of Joan Slonczewski for BIOL 238 Microbiology, 2009, Kenyon College.