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Genetics. 1995 Aug; 140(4): 1319–1338.
PMCID: PMC1206697

Cytoplasmic Incompatibility in Drosophila Simulans: Dynamics and Parameter Estimates from Natural Populations


In Drosophila simulans, cytoplasmically transmitted Wolbachia microbes cause reduced egg hatch when infected males mate with uninfected females. A Wolbachia infection and an associated mtDNA variant have spread northward through California since 1986. PCR assays show that Wolbachia infection is prevalent throughout the continental US and Central and South America, but some lines from Florida and Ecuador that are PCR-positive for Wolbachia do not cause incompatibility. We estimate from natural populations infection frequencies and the transmission and incompatibility parameter values that affect the spread of the infection. On average, infected females from nature produce 3-4% uninfected ova. Infected females with relatively low fidelity of maternal transmission show partial incompatibility with very young infected laboratory males. Nevertheless, crosses between infected flies in nature produce egg-hatch rates indistinguishable from those produced by crosses between uninfected individuals. Incompatible crosses in nature produce hatch rates 30-70% as high as those from compatible crosses. Wild-caught infected and uninfected females are equally fecund in the laboratory. Incompatibility decreases with male age, and age-specific incompatibility levels suggest that males mating in nature may often be 2 or 3 weeks old. Our parameter estimates accurately predict the frequency of Wolbachia infection in California populations.

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Selected References

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