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Heredity (Edinb). 2003 Jan;90(1):71-6.

Superinfection of Laodelphax striatellus with Wolbachia from Drosophila simulans.

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  • 1Institute of Genetics, State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.


Wolbachia are maternally inherited, intracellular alpha-proteobacteria that infect a wide range of arthropods. They manipulate the reproduction of hosts to facilitate their spread into host populations, through ways such as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), parthenogenesis, feminization and male killing. The influence of Wolbachia infection on host populations has attracted considerable interest in their possible role in speciation and as a potential agent of biological control. In this study, we used both microinjection and nested PCR to show that the Wolbachia naturally infecting Drosophila simulans can be transferred into a naturally Wolbachia-infected strain of the small brown planthopper Laodelphax striatellus, with up to 30% superinfection frequency in the F(12) generation. The superinfected males of L. striatellus showed unidirectional CI when mated with the original single-infected females, while superinfected females of L. striatellus were compatible with superinfected or single-infected males. These results are, to our knowledge, the first to establish a superinfected horizontal transfer route for Wolbachia between phylogenetically distant insects. The segregation of Wolbachia from superinfected L. striatellus was observed during the spreading process, which suggests that Wolbachia could adapt to a phylogenetically distant host with increased infection frequency in the new host population; however, it would take a long time to establish a high-frequency superinfection line. This study implies a novel way to generate insect lines capable of driving desired genes into Wolbachia-infected populations to start population replacement.

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