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Genetics. Jan 1998; 148(1): 221–231.
PMCID: PMC1459765

Population dynamics of the Wolbachia infection causing cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila melanogaster.

Abstract

Field populations of Drosophila melanogaster are often infected with Wolbachia, a vertically transmitted microorganism. Under laboratory conditions the infection causes partial incompatibility in crosses between infected males and uninfected females. Here we examine factors influencing the distribution of the infection in natural populations. We show that the level of incompatibility under field conditions was much weaker than in the laboratory. The infection was not transmitted with complete fidelity under field conditions, while field males did not transmit the infection to uninfected females and Wolbachia did not influence sperm competition. There was no association between field fitness as measured by fluctuating asymmetry and the infection status of adults. Infected field females were smaller than uninfecteds in some collections from a subtropical location, but not in other collections from the same location. Laboratory cage studies showed that the infection did not change in frequency when populations were maintained at a low larval density, but it decreased in frequency at a high larval density. Monitoring of infection frequencies in natural populations indicated stable frequencies in some populations but marked fluctuations in others. Simple models suggest that the infection probably provides a fitness benefit for the host in order to persist in populations. The exact nature of this benefit remains elusive.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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