Wolbachia bacteria are widely distributed throughout terrestrial arthropod species. These bacteria can manipulate reproduction and influence the vector competence of their hosts. Recently, Wolbachia have been integrated into vector control programmes for mosquito management. A number of supergroups and strains exist for Wolbachia, and they have yet to be characterized for many mosquito species. In this study, we examined Wolbachia prevalence and their phylogenetic relationship to other Wolbachia, using mosquitoes collected in Merced County in the Central Valley of California.
Adult mosquitoes were collected from 85 sites in Merced County, California in 2017 and 2018. Traditional and quantitative PCR were used to investigate the presence or absence and the density of Wolbachia, using Wolbachia-specific 16S rRNA and Wolbachia-surface protein (wsp) genes. The supergroup of Wolbachia was determined, and Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) by sequencing five housekeeping genes (coxA, gatB, ftsZ, hcpA and fbpA) was also used to determine Wolbachia supergroup as well as strain.
Over 7100 mosquitoes of 12 species were collected: Aedes melanimon, Ae. nigromaculis, Ae.vexans, Ae. aegypti, Culex pipiens, Cx. stigmatosoma, Cx. tarsalis, Anopheles franciscanus, An. freeborni, An. punctipennis, Culiseta incidens and Cs. inornata. Eight showed evidence of Wolbachia. To our knowledge, this study is the first to report detection of Wolbachia in five of these species (Ae. melanimon, Cx. stigmatosoma, Cx. tarsalis, Cs. incidens and Cs. inornata). Culex pipiens and Cx. stigmatosoma had a high frequency and density of Wolbachia infection, which grouped into supergroup B; Cs. inornata clustered with supergroup A. MLST comparisons identified Cx. pipiens and Cx. stigmatosoma as wPip strain type 9 supergroup B. Six species had moderate to low (< 14%) frequencies of Wolbachia. Four species were negative, Ae. nigromaculis, An. franciscanus, An. freeborni and Ae. aegypti.
New records of Wolbachia detection were found in mosquitoes from Merced County, California. Culex stigmatosoma and Cs. inornata were new records for Wolbachia supergroup B and A, respectively. Other species with Wolbachia occurred with low frequency and low density. Detection of Wolbachia in mosquitoes can be used to inform potential vector control applications. Future study of Wolbachia within Cx. stigmatosoma and Cs. inornata in California and through the range of these species could further explore Wolbachia infection in these two species.