Genomic and phenotypic comparisons reveal distinct variants of Wolbachia strain wAlbB

Martinez, J. , Ross, P. A., Gu, X., Ant, T. H., Murdochy, S. M., Tong, L., da Silva Filipe, A. , Hoffmann, A. A. and Sinkins, S. P. (2022) Genomic and phenotypic comparisons reveal distinct variants of Wolbachia strain wAlbB. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 88(22), e0141222. (doi: 10.1128/aem.01412-22) (PMID:36318064) (PMCID:PMC9680635)

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The intracellular bacterium Wolbachia inhibits virus replication and is being harnessed around the world to fight mosquito-borne diseases through releases of mosquitoes carrying the symbiont. Wolbachia strains vary in their ability to invade mosquito populations and suppress viruses in part due to differences in their density within the insect and associated fitness costs. Using whole-genome sequencing, we demonstrate the existence of two variants in wAlbB, a Wolbachia strain being released in natural populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The two variants display striking differences in genome architecture and gene content. Differences in the presence/absence of 52 genes between variants include genes located in prophage regions and others potentially involved in controlling the symbiont’s density. Importantly, we show that these genetic differences correlate with variation in wAlbB density and its tolerance to heat stress, suggesting that different wAlbB variants may be better suited for field deployment depending on local environmental conditions. Finally, we found that the wAlbB genome remained stable following its introduction in a Malaysian mosquito population. Our results highlight the need for further genomic and phenotypic characterization of Wolbachia strains in order to inform ongoing Wolbachia-based programs and improve the selection of optimal strains in future field interventions.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The study was supported by Wellcome Trust (202888, 108508) to SPS and by the National 561 Health and Medical Research Council (1132412, 1118640 []) to 562 AAH. LT and ASF were funded by the MRC (MC_UU_12018/12).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Murdochy, Mr Shivan and Martinez, Dr Julien and Sinkins, Professor Steven and Tong, Dr Lily and Ant, Dr Thomas and Da Silva Filipe, Dr Ana
Authors: Martinez, J., Ross, P. A., Gu, X., Ant, T. H., Murdochy, S. M., Tong, L., da Silva Filipe, A., Hoffmann, A. A., and Sinkins, S. P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
ISSN (Online):1098-5336
Published Online:01 November 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Martinez et al.
First Published:First published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology 88(22): e0141222
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
173477Wolbachia-mediated arbovirus inhibition in mosquitoesSteven SinkinsWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)202888/Z/16/ZIII-MRC-GU Centre for Virus Research
174018Wolbachia-based control of virus transmission by the mosquito Aedes albopictusSteven SinkinsWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)108508/A/15/ZIII-MRC-GU Centre for Virus Research