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Insect Mol Biol. 2004 Jun;13(3):317-22.

Strain-specific quantification of Wolbachia density in Aedes albopictus and effects of larval rearing conditions.

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Vector Research Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK.


The density of the endosymbiont Wolbachia can influence the expression of the crossing sterilities known as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), and also its rate of maternal transmission. Aedes albopictus mosquitoes contain a superinfection with the Wolbachia strains wAlbA and wAlbB. A strain-specific real-time quantitative PCR assay was developed and used to quantify relative Wolbachia strain densities within individual mosquitoes. The wAlbB strain was consistently found to be at higher density than wAlbA, which can explain a slightly lower rate of maternal transmission reported for wAlbA. The effects of larval crowding and nutritional stress were also examined. Larval crowding always reduced adult size, but reduced the density of Wolbachia strains relative to uncrowded conditions only if crowding was accompanied by restricted nutrient availability. Crowded rearing conditions never resulted in strain segregation or in a reduction in the penetrance of CI, however. The rate of maternal transmission and the penetrance of CI are the two most important variables that determine relative Wolbachia population invasion dynamics, and both are considerably higher here than have been reported in the Drosophila simulans model system.

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