Establishing reliable risk projection information about the distribution pattern of members of the Culex pipiens complex is of particular interest, as these mosquitoes are competent vectors for certain disease-causing pathogens. Wolbachia, a maternally inherited bacterial symbiont, are distributed in various arthropod species and can induce cytoplasmic incompatibility, i.e., reduced egg hatch, in certain crosses. It is being considered as a tool for population control of mosquito disease vectors. The Aegean region is characterized by highly populated, rural, and agricultural areas and is also on the route of the migratory birds. In this study, a fragment of the 658 bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene, which includes the barcode region, was employed to differentiate Cx. pipiens complex species found in this region. Moreover, for the first time, the prevalence of Wolbachia endobacteria in these natural populations was examined using PCR amplification of a specific wsp gene. Our results revealed a widespread (more than 90%, n=121) presence of the highly efficient West Nile virus vector Cx. quinquefasciatus in the region. We also found that Wolbachia infection is widespread; the average prevalence was 62% in populations throughout the region. This study provided valuable information about the composition of Cx. pipiens complex mosquitoes and the prevalence of Wolbachia infection in these populations in the Aegean region. This information will be helpful in tracking mosquito-borne diseases and designing and implementing Wolbachia-based control strategies in the region.
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Vol. 43 • No. 1