Natural Wolbachia infections in malaria vectors in Kayin state, Myanmar
Sawasdichai S., Chaumeau V., Dah T., Kulabkeeree T., Kajeechiwa L., Phanaphadungtham M., Trakoolchengkaew M., Kittiphanakun P., Akararungrot Y., Oo K., Delmas G., White NJ., Nosten FH.
Background: Natural Wolbachia infections in malaria mosquitoes were recently reported in Africa, and negatively correlated with the development of Plasmodium falciparum in the vectors. The occurrence and effects of Wolbachia infections outside Africa have not been described and may have been underestimated. Methods: Mosquitoes were collected by human-landing catch during May and June 2017 in ten villages in Kayin state, Myanmar. Closely related species of malaria vectors were identified with molecular assays. Wolbachia infection rates were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. Results: Malaria vectors were identified in the Funestus, Maculatus and Leucosphyrus Groups. Wolbachia were detected in 6/6 Anopheles species and in 5/10 villages. Mean prevalence of Wolbachia infection was 2.7% (95%CI= [1.3; 4.9]). The median Wolbachia load was seven orders of magnitude less in naturally infected malaria vectors than in artificially infected laboratory-reared Aedes aegypti. Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA sequences revealed a high diversity of Wolbachia strains and identified lineages different from those described in Africa. Conclusion: Natural Wolbachia infections are common and widespread in malaria vectors in Kayin state, Myanmar. Their effects on Anopheles mosquitoes and malaria transmission is yet to be determined.