In the absence of effective, approved vaccines or therapeutic measures against dengue and other mosquito borne pathogens, public health efforts must focus on the control of mosquito vectors that are required for transmission. Unfortunately, effective control measures are not available against the invasive and medically important Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus). This is due largely to its biology;the cryptic and inaccessible breeding sites of this mosquito prevent finding and treating a large proportion of the targeted mosquito population. This project will perform critical research required for the development of a self-delivering, species specific, biological control approach against Ae. albopictus, without involving genetically modified organisms. In brief, the strategy is to release Ae. albopictus males that are infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which effectively sterilize the mates of the released males. Male mosquitoes do not bite, blood feed, or transmit disease. They can be reared inexpensively and can find indigenous female Ae. albopictus more effectively than a team of trained professionals using existing tools. Following mating, the mated females are sterile for the remainder of their life. The Wolbachia-based approach can be integrated with existing insecticidal approaches, allowing the simultaneous control of Ae. albopictus and additional important mosquitoes. In Phase I of this study, we will (1) extend prior work characterizing the level of egg hatch resulting from the incompatible matings with USA-derived indigenous mosquitoes, (2) assess the reproductive output of the laboratory colony, which will allow for improved estimate of rearing cost, (3) test methods for packaging and delivery and (4) assess competitiveness of the resulting males infected with the Wolbachia microbial pesticide. Each of these goals is important for the intended downstream economic model. The proposed scientific goals will occur in parallel with an EPA assessment that is in progress toward an Experimental Use Permit. Downstream, the approach being developed is broadly applicable to additional important mosquitoes both within and beyond the USA.

Public Health Relevance

Due to the lack of vaccines for prevention of dengue and additional mosquito borne pathogens in the USA, controlling important mosquito populations is critical. This project supports further development of a self- delivering, species specific, biological control targeting Aedes albopictus, an invasive mosquito for which effective controls are not available. The approach being developed will be compatible with, and can be used simultaneously with, existing insecticidal tools. A regulatory pathway is defined. Moreover, the approach will be broadly applicable to additional mosquito vector species (e.g., Ae. aegypti, Culex pipiens, etc.) and appropriate for areas outside the USA.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IDM-V (12))
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Costero, Adriana
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Mosquitomate, Inc.
United States
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Mains, James W; Brelsfoard, Corey L; Rose, Robert I et al. (2016) Female Adult Aedes albopictus Suppression by Wolbachia-Infected Male Mosquitoes. Sci Rep 6:33846