• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of geneticsGeneticsCurrent IssueInformation for AuthorsEditorial BoardSubscribeSubmit a Manuscript
Genetics. Jan 1998; 148(1): 221–231.
PMCID: PMC1459765

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


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.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (119K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Breeuwer JA, Werren JH. Cytoplasmic incompatibility and bacterial density in Nasonia vitripennis. Genetics. 1993 Oct;135(2):565–574. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Bressac C, Rousset F. The reproductive incompatibility system in Drosophila simulans: DAPI-staining analysis of the Wolbachia symbionts in sperm cysts. J Invertebr Pathol. 1993 May;61(3):226–230. [PubMed]
  • Giordano R, O'Neill SL, Robertson HM. Wolbachia infections and the expression of cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila sechellia and D. mauritiana. Genetics. 1995 Aug;140(4):1307–1317. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hoffmann AA, Turelli M. Unidirectional incompatibility in Drosophila simulans: inheritance, geographic variation and fitness effects. Genetics. 1988 Jun;119(2):435–444. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hoffmann AA, Turelli M, Harshman LG. Factors affecting the distribution of cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila simulans. Genetics. 1990 Dec;126(4):933–948. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hoffmann AA, Clancy DJ, Merton E. Cytoplasmic incompatibility in Australian populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics. 1994 Mar;136(3):993–999. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • James AC, Azevedo RB, Partridge L. Cellular basis and developmental timing in a size cline of Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics. 1995 Jun;140(2):659–666. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • McKenzie JA, Clarke GM. Diazinon resistance, fluctuating asymmetry and fitness in the Australian sheep blowfly, lucilia cuprina. Genetics. 1988 Sep;120(1):213–220. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • O'Neill SL, Karr TL. Bidirectional incompatibility between conspecific populations of Drosophila simulans. Nature. 1990 Nov 8;348(6297):178–180. [PubMed]
  • O'Neill SL, Giordano R, Colbert AM, Karr TL, Robertson HM. 16S rRNA phylogenetic analysis of the bacterial endosymbionts associated with cytoplasmic incompatibility in insects. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Apr 1;89(7):2699–2702. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Rousset F, Bouchon D, Pintureau B, Juchault P, Solignac M. Wolbachia endosymbionts responsible for various alterations of sexuality in arthropods. Proc Biol Sci. 1992 Nov 23;250(1328):91–98. [PubMed]
  • Sinkins SP, Braig HR, O'Neill SL. Wolbachia superinfections and the expression of cytoplasmic incompatibility. Proc Biol Sci. 1995 Sep 22;261(1362):325–330. [PubMed]
  • Turelli M, Hoffmann AA. Rapid spread of an inherited incompatibility factor in California Drosophila. Nature. 1991 Oct 3;353(6343):440–442. [PubMed]
  • Turelli M, Hoffmann AA. Cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila simulans: dynamics and parameter estimates from natural populations. Genetics. 1995 Aug;140(4):1319–1338. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Turelli M, Hoffmann AA, McKechnie SW. Dynamics of cytoplasmic incompatibility and mtDNA variation in natural Drosophila simulans populations. Genetics. 1992 Nov;132(3):713–723. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wade MJ, Chang NW. Increased male fertility in Tribolium confusum beetles after infection with the intracellular parasite Wolbachia. Nature. 1995 Jan 5;373(6509):72–74. [PubMed]
  • Wade MJ, Stevens L. Microorganism mediated reproductive isolation in flour beetles (genus Tribolium). Science. 1985 Feb 1;227(4686):527–528. [PubMed]

Articles from Genetics are provided here courtesy of Genetics Society of America


Related citations in PubMed

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...