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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Mar;78(5):1491-5. doi: 10.1128/AEM.06751-11. Epub 2011 Dec 30.

Wolbachia strain wAlbB enhances infection by the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei in Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.


Wolbachia, a common bacterial endosymbiont of insects, has been shown to protect its hosts against a wide range of pathogens. However, not all strains exert a protective effect on their host. Here we assess the effects of two divergent Wolbachia strains, wAlbB from Aedes albopictus and wMelPop from Drosophila melanogaster, on the vector competence of Anopheles gambiae challenged with Plasmodium berghei. We show that the wAlbB strain significantly increases P. berghei oocyst levels in the mosquito midgut while wMelPop modestly suppresses oocyst levels. The wAlbB strain is avirulent to mosquitoes while wMelPop is moderately virulent to mosquitoes pre-blood meal and highly virulent after mosquitoes have fed on mice. These various effects on P. berghei levels suggest that Wolbachia strains differ in their interactions with the host and/or pathogen, and these differences could be used to dissect the molecular mechanisms that cause interference of pathogen development in mosquitoes.

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