Abstracts (first author)
Implication of Wolbachia on avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) transmission by Culex pipiens mosquitoes
In recent years, there has been a shift in the one host one parasite paradigm with the realization that, in the field, most hosts are co-infected with multiple parasites. This question is particularly relevant when the host is a vector of diseases, because multiple infections can have drastic consequences for parasite transmission at both the ecological and evolutionary time scales. Wolbachia pipientis is the most common parasitic microorganism in insects and as such it is of special interest for understanding the role of coinfections in the outcome of parasite infections. We have investigated whether Wolbachia can modulate the Plasmodium infection success and its effect on different life history traits of mosquitoes, such as adult’s size, fecundity and on what is, arguably, the most important component of the vectorial capacity of mosquitoes: their longevity. For this purpose, and in contrast to recent studies that have focused on mosquito-Plasmodium and/or mosquito-Wolbachia combinations not found in nature, we work on a Wolbachia-Culex pipiens-Plasmodium triad with a common evolutionary history. To explore different mechanistic explanations for our results, we have also carried out different experiments in which we investigated whether Wolbachia or Plasmodium can modulate the energetic budget and the immune response of mosquitoes. Further, we discuss different evolutionary explanations as well as their consequences for Plasmodium transmission.