Research Topic

Microbiota: A Consequential Third Wheel in the Mosquito-Pathogen Relationship

About this Research Topic

Mosquitoes harbour a variety of microbes including extracellular and endosymbiotic bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes. These microbes can be found colonising the gut and salivary glands, two important tissues for disease transmission, and have a range of effects on vectorial capacity. They affect the mosquito itself, notably its lifespan, fecundity and larval development, and these effects may be positive or negative depending on the considered species and developmental stage. Additionally, the mosquito microbiota can inhibit infection by mosquito-borne pathogens by stimulating immunity, producing antimicrobials or competing for nutrients, or alternatively enhance infection by disturbing intestinal barriers.

While vector-borne diseases account for 17% clinical cases of infectious diseases worldwide, the mosquito microbiota appears as a strategic entry point to limit this global health burden. Notably, the discovery of the natural virus inhibition by Wolbachia endosymbionts and their known ability to spread in insect populations led to the development of symbiont-based dengue control programs in areas distributed on five continents.

Over the last decade, research on the mosquito microbiota has uncovered diverse host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions, which can increase or decrease vectorial capacity. However, the relative importance of these relationships is unclear and their underlying mechanisms are still largely uncharacterized. Notably, the mechanisms underlying the observed impacts on mosquito physiology and vector competence are poorly understood. Transmission-blocking strategies can be based on genetic engineering approaches as well as on natural inhibition of pathogens, already reported for a wide range of microbes including endosymbionts, other bacteria, viruses, microsporidians and yeasts.

High variability in the microbiota composition within mosquito populations leads to experimental variability which is a challenge for data reproducibility, but can also be seen as a source of information to better understand these systems. In light of this, our Research Topic on mosquito microbiota aims to highlight the diverse interests and approaches of the field, as this diversity is essential to tackle the problem of experimental variability and build a bigger picture of the interactions between mosquitoes, their microbiota and transmitted pathogens.

This Research Topic will include Original Research articles as well as Reviews, Methods and Opinion papers. We aim to publish research on taxonomically diverse microbes (extracellular or endosymbiotic bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes) and mosquitoes (vectors and non-vectors), including both field-based and laboratory-based studies. We expect to publish fundamental research furthering the functional characterization of host-microbe and/or microbe-microbe interactions in the mosquito. Operational research based on mosquito microbes and their derived products will also be encouraged, whether these are directed towards transmission-blocking strategies or towards vector-control strategies.

While this field moves forward and vector-borne diseases affect an increasing proportion of the world population, analyses helping to define the balance between requirements for immediate action to reduce the burden of vector-borne diseases while applying safe and population-supported measures will also be of interest to this article collection.


Keywords: mosquito, microbiota, vector-borne diseases, fieldwork, functional characterization


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Mosquitoes harbour a variety of microbes including extracellular and endosymbiotic bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes. These microbes can be found colonising the gut and salivary glands, two important tissues for disease transmission, and have a range of effects on vectorial capacity. They affect the mosquito itself, notably its lifespan, fecundity and larval development, and these effects may be positive or negative depending on the considered species and developmental stage. Additionally, the mosquito microbiota can inhibit infection by mosquito-borne pathogens by stimulating immunity, producing antimicrobials or competing for nutrients, or alternatively enhance infection by disturbing intestinal barriers.

While vector-borne diseases account for 17% clinical cases of infectious diseases worldwide, the mosquito microbiota appears as a strategic entry point to limit this global health burden. Notably, the discovery of the natural virus inhibition by Wolbachia endosymbionts and their known ability to spread in insect populations led to the development of symbiont-based dengue control programs in areas distributed on five continents.

Over the last decade, research on the mosquito microbiota has uncovered diverse host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions, which can increase or decrease vectorial capacity. However, the relative importance of these relationships is unclear and their underlying mechanisms are still largely uncharacterized. Notably, the mechanisms underlying the observed impacts on mosquito physiology and vector competence are poorly understood. Transmission-blocking strategies can be based on genetic engineering approaches as well as on natural inhibition of pathogens, already reported for a wide range of microbes including endosymbionts, other bacteria, viruses, microsporidians and yeasts.

High variability in the microbiota composition within mosquito populations leads to experimental variability which is a challenge for data reproducibility, but can also be seen as a source of information to better understand these systems. In light of this, our Research Topic on mosquito microbiota aims to highlight the diverse interests and approaches of the field, as this diversity is essential to tackle the problem of experimental variability and build a bigger picture of the interactions between mosquitoes, their microbiota and transmitted pathogens.

This Research Topic will include Original Research articles as well as Reviews, Methods and Opinion papers. We aim to publish research on taxonomically diverse microbes (extracellular or endosymbiotic bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes) and mosquitoes (vectors and non-vectors), including both field-based and laboratory-based studies. We expect to publish fundamental research furthering the functional characterization of host-microbe and/or microbe-microbe interactions in the mosquito. Operational research based on mosquito microbes and their derived products will also be encouraged, whether these are directed towards transmission-blocking strategies or towards vector-control strategies.

While this field moves forward and vector-borne diseases affect an increasing proportion of the world population, analyses helping to define the balance between requirements for immediate action to reduce the burden of vector-borne diseases while applying safe and population-supported measures will also be of interest to this article collection.


Keywords: mosquito, microbiota, vector-borne diseases, fieldwork, functional characterization


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Abstract
30 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2020 Abstract
30 October 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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