An insect cell that contains Wolbachia
Wolbachia is found in up to 60% of all insect species including the Cairns birdwing butterfly.
Wolbachia (green) in the ovaries of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes
High magnification image of Aedes aegypti cells with Wolbachia (green)
Wolbachia is found in moths, butterflies, ladybirds and the blue damselfly (pictured).
Wolbachia is a natural bacterium present in up to 60% of all the different species of insects around us, including some mosquitoes.
However, it is not usually found in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary species responsible for transmitting human viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika.
For many years scientists have been studying Wolbachia, looking for ways to use it to potentially control the mosquitoes that spread human diseases.
Our research has shown that when introduced into the Aedes aegypti mosquito, Wolbachia can stop these viruses from growing inside the mosquito and being transmitted to people. This important discovery has the potential to transform the fight against life-threatening viral diseases.
Wolbachiais safe for humans, animals and the environment. It is a naturally occurring bacterium already found in the environment in many insect species. Two independent risk assessments have been conducted, both of which gave an overall risk rating of ‘negligible’ (the lowest possible rating) for the release of mosquitoes with Wolbachia.