Wolbachia, normally a symbiont of Drosophila, can be virulent, causing degeneration and early death
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- Wolbachia, normally a symbiont of Drosophila, can be virulent, causing degeneration and early death
- Min, Kyung-Tai; Benzer, S
- Life-span; Microbial infection; Parasite; Rickettsia; Symbiosis
- Issue Date
- NATL ACAD SCIENCES
- PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, v.94, no.20, pp.10792 - 10796
- Wolbachia, a maternally transmitted micro-organism of the Rickettsial family, is known to cause cytoplasmic incompatibility, parthenogenesis, or feminization in various insect species. The bacterium-host relationship is usually symbiotic: incompatibility between infected males and uninfected females can enhance reproductive isolation and evolution, whereas the other mechanisms enhance progeny production. We have discovered a variant Wolbachia carried by Drosophila melanogaster in which this cozy relationship is abrogated. Although quiescent during the fly's development, it begins massive proliferation in the adult, causing wide-spread degeneration of tissues, including brain, retina, and muscle, culminating in early death. Tetracycline treatment of carrier flies eliminates both the bacteria and the degeneration, restoring normal life-span. The 16s rDNA sequence is over 98% identical to Wolbachia known from other insects. Examination of laboratory strains of D. melanogaster commonly used in genetic experiments reveals that a large proportion actually carry Wolbachia in a nonvirulent form, which might affect their longevity and behavior.
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