School of BioSciences - Research Publications

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    Characterizing the Aedes aegypti Population in a Vietnamese Village in Preparation for a Wolbachia-Based Mosquito Control Strategy to Eliminate Dengue
    Jeffery, JAL ; Yen, NT ; Nam, VS ; Nghia, LT ; Hoffmann, AA ; Kay, BH ; Ryan, PA ; Gubler, D (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2009-11-01)
    BACKGROUND: A life-shortening strain of the obligate intracellular bacteria Wolbachia, called wMelPop, is seen as a promising new tool for the control of Aedes aegypti. However, developing a vector control strategy based on the release of mosquitoes transinfected with wMelPop requires detailed knowledge of the demographics of the target population. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In Tri Nguyen village (611 households) on Hon Mieu Island in central Vietnam, we conducted nine quantitative entomologic surveys over 14 months to determine if Ae. aegypti populations were spatially and temporally homogenous, and to estimate population size. There was no obvious relationship between mosquito (larval, pupal or adult) abundance and temperature and rainfall, and no area of the village supported consistently high numbers of mosquitoes. In almost all surveys, key premises produced high numbers of Ae. aegypti. However, these premises were not consistent between surveys. For an intervention based on a single release of wMelPop-infected Ae. aegypti, release ratios of infected to uninfected adult mosquitoes of all age classes are estimated to be 1.8-6.7ratio1 for gravid females (and similarly aged males) or teneral adults, respectively. We calculated that adult female mosquito abundance in Tri Nguyen village could range from 1.1 to 43.3 individuals of all age classes per house. Thus, an intervention could require the release of 2-78 wMelPop-infected gravid females and similarly aged males per house, or 7-290 infected teneral female and male mosquitoes per house. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Given the variability we encountered, this study highlights the importance of multiple entomologic surveys when evaluating the spatial structure of a vector population or estimating population size. If a single release of wMelPop-infected Ae. aegypti were to occur when wild Ae. aegypti abundance was at its maximum, a preintervention control program would be necessary to ensure that there was no net increase in mosquito numbers. However, because of the short-term temporal heterogeneity, the inconsistent spatial structure and the impact of transient key premises that we observed, the feasibility of multiple releases of smaller numbers of mosquitoes also needs to be considered. In either case, fewer wMelPop-infected mosquitoes would then need to be released, which will likely be more acceptable to householders.
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    Towards an Integrated Framework for Assessing the Vulnerability of Species to Climate Change
    Williams, SE ; Shoo, LP ; Isaac, JL ; Hoffmann, AA ; Langham, G ; Moritz, C (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2008-12-01)
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    From parasite to mutualist: Rapid evolution of Wolbachia in natural populations of Drosophila
    Weeks, AR ; Turelli, M ; Harcombe, WR ; Reynolds, KT ; Hoffmann, AA ; Keller, L (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2007-05-01)
    Wolbachia are maternally inherited bacteria that commonly spread through host populations by causing cytoplasmic incompatibility, often expressed as reduced egg hatch when uninfected females mate with infected males. Infected females are frequently less fecund as a consequence of Wolbachia infection. However, theory predicts that because of maternal transmission, these "parasites" will tend to evolve towards a more mutualistic association with their hosts. Drosophila simulans in California provided the classic case of a Wolbachia infection spreading in nature. Cytoplasmic incompatibility allowed the infection to spread through individual populations within a few years and from southern to northern California (more than 700 km) within a decade, despite reducing the fecundity of infected females by 15%-20% under laboratory conditions. Here we show that the Wolbachia in California D. simulans have changed over the last 20 y so that infected females now exhibit an average 10% fecundity advantage over uninfected females in the laboratory. Our data suggest smaller but qualitatively similar changes in relative fecundity in nature and demonstrate that fecundity-increasing Wolbachia variants are currently polymorphic in natural populations.