Wolbachia Bacterial Parasite
What is the wolbachia bacteria? Wolbachia bacterial parasite is an intracellular bacteria, mainly affecting species of arthropods, some nematodes and a significant number of insects. Wolbachia bacterial parasite may be a highly common microbial parasite as well as being most commonly known reproductive parasite.
Complex Relationship with the Host
Being a parasite the relationship with the host is often complicated or complex. There are some mentioned cases where the relationship has a symbiotic pattern along with being parasitic. As there are some species of the hosts of the wolbachia bacterial parasite that without the presence of the colony of the parasite may not be able to even survive let alone multiply.
Organs Affected by Wolbachia
A number of different organs are affected by the bacteria known as what is wolbachia bacteria. Although the main organs that are infected with this bacteria are the reproductive organs for example the ovaries and the testes of the hosts. The females of the infected hosts can transfer the infection to their progeny. As with any species of organism, the wolbachia bacterial parasite maximizes its spread by changing the capabilities of reproduction in their hosts.
The Mosquito Connection
There are some species of mosquitoes that spread different viruses like chikungunya, Zika and dengue. These include the Aedes species of the mosquitoes, which are quite common especially in the United States. This wolbachia bacterial parasite is not found naturally in this mosquito. These are introduced by scientists into the mosquito eggs, and these become wolbachia mosquito. Now when these male wolbachia mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes (without Wolbachia) their eggs do not hatch.
The so called wolbachia treatment is that these male wolbachia mosquitoes when released in the area prevent the population from spreading which is attributed to the non-hatching of the eggs when wild female (without wolbachia bacterial parasite) breed with the wolbachia male. Hence the prevalence of the diseases spread through these mosquitoes species is reduced.
Production of Wolbachia Mosquito
The production of the wolbachia species of the mosquito is through the introduction of the wolbachia bacterial parasite into the eggs of the aegypti mosquitoes. The new mosquitoes that are now bred in these eggs will have wolbachia bacterial parasite.
These parasites affect the reproductive pattern and only males of this breed is released after the sorting of the genders. Although females are used for breeding purposes in the laboratory. This is how these are mass produced after the wolbachia treatment. This is called the metodo wolbachia or wolbachia method.
Cytoplasmic incompatibility is the reason why these eggs do not become viable. Cytomplasmic incompatibility is the name given to the phenomenon where the male sperm cells and the female egg cells are not compatible enough to form viability of egg cells. This happens in a wide range of insects which are infected by this type of wolbachia bacterial parasite.
Since affect does not pass from the male to the next generation due to the cytoplasmic incompatibility, so the females are kept for the horizontal transmission of the parasite to the next generation. And since the wolbachia mosquito has the parasite transferred maternally, the host and parasite relationship becomes quite intimate. Although it does not affect the health of the host significantly, the overall impact is only on the reproductive organs.
World Mosquito Program Wolbachia
The World Mosquito Program wolbachia is a program that aims to prevent the illnesses like yellow fever, chikugunya, Zika and dengue. Through the World Mosquito Program wolbachia the transmission is prevented of such mosquito borne diseases. This has been proven and monitoring shows that where the wolbachia mosquito population at a higher level and it appears to be self-sustaining. The viral transmission reduces significantly.
The first batch of the wolbachia mosquito was released in 2011 and since then different studies are showing that risk of transmission of different viruses can be greatly decreased by the use of the wolbachia mosquito. Other than that there are different trials conducted at multiple locations that acknowledge that the World Mosquito Program Wolbachia is not only effective but also safe as well, that prevents the disease spread in cities and entire regions. And they claim that the metodo wolbachia or the wolbachia method is a safe and effective way to reduce the burden of the mosquito borne diseases in the population.
Around the World
The project is active around the world in more than 10 countries and their wolbachia mosquito (the wolbachia carrying mosquitoes) had reached around 6 million people and this is the number reported by December 2020. The program is running through regional hubs and currently has 02 (two) hubs, one in Australia and the other in Vietnam. In Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh City respectively. They have not stopped there, they are looking to establish another center or hub in the Americas probably in Panama. The global operations are carried out through the regional centers or hubs which then implement the core operations locally.
And this all started from the discovery of bacterium wolbachia in 1924, when researchers discovered this bacterium. And this is where the journey of the world mosquito program wolbachia actually started.
In the US (United States)
Not only the world mosquito program wolbachia, but in 2017, even an affliated company to google came forward with their plan for a 20 million wolbachia mosquito release. This release was to occur in California as they tried to combact and decrease the disease burden of the Zika virus in the region.
Also in 2017 a company was registered known as the mosquito mate; which was registered with the EPA (US Environment Protection Agency). The aim was to release the Wolbachia mosquitoes in around 20 US States as well as the District of Columbia.
Other than the US, the Agency for the Environment of Singapore has also teamed with the Google affiliate. This would be a research into the development and later on deployment of a more efficient and a more advanced way to release the wolbachia mosquitoes. They also plan to study and suppress the Aegypti Mosquito population in the urban areas so as to fight dengue.