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Wolbachia, normally a symbiont of Drosophila, can be virulent, causing degeneration and early  death

Min, Kyung-Tai and Benzer, Seymour (1997) Wolbachia, normally a symbiont of Drosophila, can be virulent, causing degeneration and early  death. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 94 (20). pp. 10792-10796. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC23488. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.20.10792.

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Wolbachia, a maternally transmitted microorganism 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 widespread 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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Additional Information:© 1997 National Academy of Sciences. Contributed by Seymour Benzer, July 21, 1997. We thank Rosalind Young, Karen Chang, and Dawn Fuelberth for excellent technical support and members of our research group for helpful discussions. We are grateful to Timothy Karr for the Wolbachia-specific monoclonal antibody and an initial sample of 16s rDNA primers and to John Werren and Scott O’Neill for helpful comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by a fellowship to K-T.M from the Del Webb Foundation and grants to S.B. from the National Institutes of Health (EY 09278 and AG 12289), the National Science Foundation (MCB 9408718), the McKnight Foundation, the French Foundation, and the James G. Boswell Foundation. The publication costs of this article were defrayed in part by page charge payment. This article must therefore be hereby marked ‘‘advertisement’’ in accordance with 18 U.S.C. §1734 solely to indicate this fact.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Del Webb FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NIHEY 09278
NIHAG 12289
NSFMCB 9408718
McKnight FoundationUNSPECIFIED
French FoundationUNSPECIFIED
James G. Boswell FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:20
PubMed Central ID:PMC23488
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20141203-111146987
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Official Citation:Kyung-Tai Min and Seymour Benzer Wolbachia, normally a symbiont of Drosophila, can be virulent, causing degeneration and early death PNAS 1997 94 (20) 10792-10796; doi:10.1073/pnas.94.20.10792
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:52328
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:03 Dec 2014 20:31
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 19:24

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