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Genetics. 2002 Nov;162(3):1313-9.

Interspecific transfer of Wolbachia between two lepidopteran insects expressing cytoplasmic incompatibility: a Wolbachia variant naturally infecting Cadra cautella causes male killing in Ephestia kuehniella.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Japan.


Wolbachia is known as the causative agent of various reproductive alterations in arthropods. The almond moth Cadra cautella is doubly infected with A- and B-group Wolbachia and expresses complete cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). The Mediterranean flour moth Ephestia kuehniella carries A-group Wolbachia and expresses partial CI. In the present study, the Wolbachia in C. cautella was transferred to E. kuehniella from which the original Wolbachia had been removed. We obtained transfected lines of three different infection states: single infection with A, single infection with B, and double infection with A and B. The doubly transfected lines and those transfected with only A produced exclusively female progeny. Two lines of evidence suggested that the sex ratio distortion was due to male killing. First, reduced egg hatch rate was observed. Second, removal of the Wolbachia from the transfected lines resulted in the recovery of a normal sex ratio of approximately 1:1. The occurrence of male killing following transfection showed that host factors influence the determination of the reproductive phenotype caused by Wolbachia. The transfected E. kuehniella males carrying exclusively B-group Wolbachia expressed partial incompatibility when crossed with the uninfected females. In addition, the transfected lines were bidirectionally incompatible with the naturally infected strain, which was the first demonstration of bidirectional CI in a lepidopteran.

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