The insect endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis (Rickettsiales: Rickettsiaceae) is undergoing field trials around the world to determine if it can reduce transmission of dengue virus from the mosquito Stegomyia aegypti to humans. Two different Wolbachia strains have been released to date. The primary effect of the wMel strain is pathogen protection whereby infection with the symbiont limits replication of dengue virus inside the mosquito. A second strain, wMelPop, induces pathogen protection, reduces the adult mosquito lifespan and decreases blood feeding success in mosquitoes after 15 days of age. Here we test whether Wolbachia infection affects mosquito attraction to host odours in adults aged 5 and 15 days. We found no evidence of reduced odour attraction of mosquitoes, even for those infected with the more virulent wMelPop. This bodes well for fitness and competitiveness in the field given that the mosquitoes must find hosts to reproduce for the biocontrol method to succeed.
- life-shortening wolbachia