BackgroundTsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) are the cyclical vectors of the causative agents of African Trypanosomosis, which has been identified as a neglected tropical disease in both humans and animals in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa. The sterile insect technique (SIT) has shown to be a powerful method to manage tsetse fly populations when used in the frame of an area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) program. To date, the release of sterile males to manage tsetse fly populations has only been implemented in areas to reduce transmission of animal African Trypanosomosis (AAT). The implementation of the SIT in areas with Human African Trypanosomosis (HAT) would require additional measures to eliminate the potential risk associated with the release of sterile males that require blood meals to survive and hence, might contribute to disease transmission. Paratransgenesis offers the potential to develop tsetse flies that are refractory to trypanosome infection by modifying their associated bacteria (Sodalis glossinidius) here after referred to as Sodalis. Here we assessed the feasibility of combining the paratransgenesis approach with SIT by analyzing the impact of ionizing radiation on the copy number of Sodalis and the vectorial capacity of sterilized tsetse males.
Results: Adult Glossina morsitans morsitans that emerged from puparia irradiated on day 22 post larviposition did not show a significant decline in Sodalis copy number as compared with non-irradiated flies. Conversely, the Sodalis copy number was significantly reduced in adults that emerged from puparia irradiated on day 29 post larviposition and in adults irradiated on day 7 post emergence. Moreover, irradiating 22-day old puparia reduced the copy number of Wolbachia and Wigglesworthia in emerged adults as compared with non-irradiated controls, but the radiation treatment had no significant impact on the vectorial competence of the flies.
Conclusion: Although the radiation treatment significantly reduced the copy number of some tsetse fly symbionts, the copy number of Sodalis recovered with time in flies irradiated as 22-day old puparia. This recovery offers the opportunity to combine a paratransgenesis approach - using modified Sodalis to produce males refractory to trypanosome infection - with the release of sterile males to minimize the risk of disease transmission, especially in HAT endemic areas. Moreover, irradiation did not increase the vector competence of the flies for trypanosomes.