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Curr Microbiol. 2007 Sep;55(3):193-7. Epub 2007 Jul 25.

Absence of Wolbachia in nonfilariid worms parasitizing arthropods.

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  • 1Equipe Génétique de l'Adaptation, Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution, Université de Montpellier II, C.C. 065, F-34095 Montpellier, cedex 05, France.


Wolbachia are strictly intracellular maternally inherited alpha-proteobacteria, largely widespread among arthropods and filariids (i.e., filarial nematodes). Wolbachia capacities to infect new host species have been greatly evidenced and the transfer of Wolbachia between arthropods and filariids has probably occurred more than once. Interestingly, among nematode species, Wolbachia infection was found in filariids but not in closely related lineages. Their occurrence in filariids has been supposed a consequence of the parasitic lifestyle of worms within Wolbachia-infected arthropods, implying that nonfilariid worms parasitizing arthropods are also likely to be infected by some Wolbachia acquired from their hosts. To further investigate this hypothesis, we have examined seven species of nonfilariid worms of Nematoda and Nematomorpha phyla, all interacting intimately with arthropods. Wolbachia infection in nonfilariid parasitic worms was never detected by polymerase chain reaction assays of the 16S rDNA and wsp genes. By contrast, some arthropod hosts are well infected by Wolbachia of the B supergroup. Then the intimate contact with infected arthropods is not a sufficient condition to explain the Wolbachia occurrence in filariids and could underline a physiological singularity or a particular evolutionary event to acquire and maintain Wolbachia infection.

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