Wolbachia-mediated arbovirus inhibition in mosquitoes

Year of award: 2016


  • Prof Steven Sinkins

    University of Glasgow

Project summary

Viruses transmitted by mosquitoes impose huge health burdens in countries with a tropical climate. There are millions of cases of dengue fever annually and it can be fatal, while the very painful and debilitating chikungunya fever is rapidly expanding in range and epidemic severity. The recent emergence of Zika virus was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization and it poses new concerns for pregnant women because it has been linked to birth defects and neurological disorders. Options for controlling these diseases remain very limited.

All three of these viruses are transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. One way to control the viruses involves Wolbachia bacteria, which can be introduced into the Aedes mosquitoes and can block virus transmission when present at high levels. If these bacteria are to be used as disease control agents, it is important to understand the mechanisms by which they prevent virus transmission. We will examine at what stages of the viral life cycle inhibition occurs for all three viruses, and examine the effects of Wolbachia on various mosquito pathways that we predict could have an influence on virus cell entry or replication.