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The Effect of Nonrandom Mating on Wolbachia Dynamics: Implications for Population Replacement and Sterile Releases in Aedes Mosquitoes

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  • 1 Pest, and Environmental Adaptation Research Group (PEARG), School of Bioscience, Bio21 Institute University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia;
  • 2 Commonwealth Scientific, and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Black Mountain Laboratories, Black Mountain, Canberra, Australia

Wolbachia bacteria are known to cause deviations from random mating and affect sperm competition (SC) in some of their arthropod hosts. Because these effects could influence the effectiveness of Wolbachia in mosquito population replacement and suppression programs, we developed a theoretical framework to investigate them and we collected relevant data for the wMel infection in Aedes aegypti. Using incompatibility patterns as a measure of mating success of infected versus uninfected mosquitoes, we found some evidence that uninfected males sire more offspring than infected males. However, our theoretical framework suggests that this effect is unlikely to hamper Wolbachia invasion and has only minor effects on population suppression programs. Nevertheless, we suggest that mating effects and SC need to be monitored in an ongoing manner in release programs, given the possibility of ongoing selection for altered mating patterns.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Heng Lin Yeap, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Black Mountain Laboratories, Black Mountain, 16 Clunies Ross St., Black Mountain, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia. E-mail: henglin.yeap@csiro.au

Financial support: This project was funded by a grant and a fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council to AAH.

Authors’ addresses: Heng Lin Yeap, Commonwealth Scientific, and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Black Mountain Laboratories, Black Mountain, Australia, E-mail: henglin.yeap@csiro.au. Nancy Margaret Endersby-Harshman and Ary Anthony Hoffmann, Pest and Environmental Adaptation Research Group, Bio21 Institute School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, E-mails: nancye@unimelb.edu.au and ary@unimelb.edu.au.

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