Diverse novel resident Wolbachia strains in Culicine mosquitoes from Madagascar
Wolbachia endosymbiotic bacteria are widespread throughout insect species and Wolbachia transinfected in Aedes mosquito species has formed the basis for biocontrol programs as Wolbachia strains inhibit arboviral replication and can spread through populations. Resident strains in wild Culicine mosquito populations (the vectors of most arboviruses) requires further investigation given resident strains can also affect arboviral transmission. As Madagascar has a large diversity of both Culicine species and has had recent arboviral outbreaks, an entomology survey was undertaken, in five ecologically diverse sites, to determine the Wolbachia prevalence. We detected diverse novel resident Wolbachia strains within the Aedeomyia, Culex, Ficalbia, Mansonia and Uranotaenia genera. Wolbachia prevalence rates and strain characterisation through Sanger sequencing with multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and phylogenetic analysis revealed significant diversity and we detected co-infections with the environmentally acquired bacterial endosymbiont Asaia. Mosquitoes were screened for major arboviruses to investigate if any evidence could be provided for their potential role in transmission and we report the presence of Rift Valley fever virus in three Culex species: Culex tritaeniorhynchus, Culex antennatus and Culex decens. The implications of the presence of resident Wolbachia strains are discussed and how the discovery of novel strains can be utilized for applications in the development of biocontrol strategies.