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 with quantitative real-time PCR. Results: Low titer of Wolbachia DNA was detected in 13/370 samples in six malaria vector species. Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA sequences revealed a high diversity of Wolbachia strains and identified lineages different from those described in the African malaria mosquitoes. Conclusion: These low-density genetically diverse natural Wolbachia infections question the ecology and biology of Wolbachia- Anopheles interactions in Southeast Asia. Their effects on malaria transmission and mosquito vectors are yet to be determined.
Wellcome open research
Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Mae Sot, 63110, Thailand.