The Wolbachia Mobilome in Culex Pipiens Includes a Putative Plasmid (vol 10, 1050, 2019)
Bordenstein, Sarah R.
Esen, Ozcan C.
Bordenstein, Seth R.
Eren, A. Murat
Wolbachia is a genus of obligate intracellular bacteria found in nematodes and arthropods worldwide, including insect vectors that transmit dengue, West Nile, and Zika viruses. Wolbachia's unique ability to alter host reproductive behavior through its temperate bacteriophage WO has enabled the development of new vector control strategies. However, our understanding of Wolbachia's mobilome beyond its bacteriophages is incomplete. Here, we reconstruct near-complete Wolbachia genomes from individual ovary metagenomes of four wild Culex pipiens mosquitoes captured in France. In addition to viral genes missing from the Wolbachia reference genome, we identify a putative plasmid (pWCP), consisting of a 9.23-kbp circular element with 14 genes. We validate its presence in additional Culex pipiens mosquitoes using PCR, long-read sequencing, and screening of existing metagenomes. The discovery of this previously unrecognized extrachromosomal element opens additional possibilities for genetic manipulation of Wolbachia.