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J Evol Biol. 2004 Mar;17(2):322-30.

What maintains noncytoplasmic incompatibility inducing Wolbachia in their hosts: a case study from a natural Drosophila yakuba population.

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Institut Jacques Monod, CNRS-Universités Paris 627, Laboratoire Dynamique du Génome et Evolution, Jussieu, Paris, France.


Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) allows Wolbachia to invade hosts populations by specifically inducing sterility in crosses between infected males and uninfected females. In some species, non-CI inducing Wolbachia, that are thought to derive from CI-inducing ancestors, are common. In theory, the maintenance of such infections is not possible unless the bacterium is perfectly transmitted to offspring--and/or provides a fitness benefit to infected females. The present study aims to test this view by investigating a population of Drosophila yakuba from Gabon, West Africa. We did not find any evidence for CI using wild caught females. Infected females from the field transmitted the infection to 100% of their offspring. A positive effect on female fecundity was observed one generation after collecting, but this was not retrieved five generations later, using additional lines. Similarly, the presence of Wolbachia was found to affect mating behaviour, but the results of two experiments realized five generations apart were not consistent. Finally, Wolbachia was not found to affect sex ratio. Overall, our results would suggest that Wolbachia behaves like a neutral or nearly neutral trait in this species, and is maintained in the host by perfect maternal transmission.

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