Most pathogens require a relatively long period of development in their mosquito vector before they can be transmitted to a new human host; hence, only older insects are of epidemiological importance. The successful transfer of a life-shortening strain of the inherited bacterial symbiont, Wolbachia, into the major mosquito vector of dengue, Aedes aegypti, halved adult life span under laboratory conditions. The association is stable, and the Wolbachia strain is maternally inherited at high frequency. It is capable of inducing complete cytoplasmic incompatibility, which should facilitate its invasion into natural field populations and its persistence over time. Our data suggest that targeting mosquito age with inherited Wolbachia infections may be a viable strategy to reduce the transmission of pathogens such as dengue viruses.
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