Efforts directed at genetic modification of mosquitoes for population control or replacement are highly dependent on the initial mating success of transgenic male mosquitoes following their release into natural populations. Adult mosquito phenotypes are influenced by the environmental conditions experienced as larvae. Semifield studies conducted to date have not taken that under consideration when testing male mating fitness, and have compared mating success of males reared under identical environmental conditions. We performed pairwise mating challenges between males from a genetically modified laboratory strain (BF2) versus males from a recent Trinidad field isolate of Aedes aegypti (L.), a major vector of multiple arboviruses. We utilized larval density and nutrition to simulate environmental stress experienced by the Trinidad males and females. Our results indicated that environmental stress during larval development negatively influenced the competitiveness and reproductive success of males from the Trinidad population when paired with optimum reared BF2 males. Small (0.027 m3) and large (0.216 m3) trials were conducted wherein stressed or optimum Trinidad males competed with optimum BF2 males for mating with stressed Trinidad females. When competing with stress reared Trinidad males, optimum reared BF2 males were predominant in matings with stress reared Trinidad females, and large proportions of these females mated with males of both strains. When competing with optimum reared Trinidad males, no difference in mating success was observed between them and BF2 males, and frequencies of multiple matings were low. Our results indicate that future mating competition studies should incorporate appropriate environmental conditions when designing mating fitness trials of genetically modified males.
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Vol. 57 • No. 6