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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Oct 19;101(42):15042-5. Epub 2004 Oct 6.

Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility as a means for insect pest population control.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion 711 10, Crete, Greece.


Biological control is the purposeful introduction of parasites, predators, and pathogens to reduce or suppress pest populations. Wolbachia are inherited bacteria of arthropods that have recently attracted attention for their potential as new biocontrol agents. Wolbachia manipulate host reproduction by using several strategies, one of which is cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) [Stouthamer, R., Breeuwer, J. A. J. & Hurst, G. D. D. (1999) Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 53, 71-102]. We established Wolbachia-infected lines of the medfly Ceratitis capitata using the infected cherry fruit fly Rhagoletis cerasi as donor. Wolbachia induced complete CI in the novel host. Laboratory cage populations were completely suppressed by single releases of infected males, suggesting that Wolbachia-induced CI could be used as a novel environmentally friendly tool for the control of medfly populations. The results also encourage the introduction of Wolbachia into pest and vector species of economic and hygenic relevance to suppress or modify natural populations.

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