The Challenges of Microbial Control of Mosquito-Borne Diseases Due to the Gut Microbiome
Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on earth because of their ability to transmit a wide range of human pathogens. Traditional mosquito control methods use chemical insecticides, but with dwindling long-term effectiveness and negative effects on the environment, microbial forms of control have become common alternatives. The insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis (Bti) is the most popular of these alternatives, although it can also have direct effects on lowering environmental biodiversity and indirect effects on food-web relationships in the ecosystems where it is deployed. In addition, microbial control agents that impede pathogen development or transmission from mosquito to human are under investigation, including Wolbachia and Asaia, but unexpected interactions with mosquito gut bacteria can hinder their effectiveness. Improved characterization of mosquito gut bacterial communities is needed to determine the taxa that interfere with microbial controls and their effectiveness in wild populations. This mini-review briefly discusses relationships between mosquito gut bacteria and microbial forms of control, and the challenges in ensuring their success.