Predicting Wolbachia invasion dynamics in Aedes aegypti populations using models of density-dependent demographic traits

BMC Biology
Penelope A HancockH Charles J Godfray


Arbovirus transmission by the mosquito Aedes aegypti can be reduced by the introduction and establishment of the endosymbiotic bacteria Wolbachia in wild populations of the vector. Wolbachia spreads by increasing the fitness of its hosts relative to uninfected mosquitoes. However, mosquito fitness is also strongly affected by population size through density-dependent competition for limited food resources. We do not understand how this natural variation in fitness affects symbiont spread, which limits our ability to design successful control strategies. We develop a mathematical model to predict A. aegypti-Wolbachia dynamics that incorporates larval density-dependent variation in important fitness components of infected and uninfected mosquitoes. Our model explains detailed features of the mosquito-Wolbachia dynamics observed in two independent experimental A. aegypti populations, allowing the combined effects on dynamics of multiple density-dependent fitness components to be characterized. We apply our model to investigate Wolbachia field release dynamics, and show how invasion outcomes can depend strongly on the severity of density-dependent competition at the release site. Specifically, the ratio of released relative to wild...Continue Reading


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