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Mech Dev. 2007 Sep-Oct;124(9-10):699-714. Epub 2007 Jul 10.

Effects of Wolbachia on sperm maturation and architecture in Drosophila simulans Riverside.

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Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Siena, Via A. Moro 2, 53100 Siena, Italy.


Wolbachia is an intracellular obligate symbiont, that is relatively common in insects and also found in some nematodes. Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) is the most commonly expressed form, of several sex altering phenotypes caused by this rickettsial-like bacterium. CI is induced when infected males mate with uninfected females, and is likely the result of bacterial-induced modification of sperm grown in a Wolbachia-infected environment. Several studies have explored the dynamics of Wolbachia bacteria during sperm development in Drosophila. This study confirms and extends these earlier investigations of Wolbachia's distribution and proliferation in male germ cell lines. We examined Wolbachia population dynamics during testis development of Drosophila simulans (Riverside) by studying their distribution during the early mitotic divisions of secondary spermatogonial and subsequent meiotic cyst cells. Wolbachia are found in lower concentration in spermatogonial than in spermatocyte cells. Cytoplasmically incompatible crosses result in low levels of viable embryos despite the occurrence of fairly high levels of uninfected cysts. During meiotic divisions Wolbachia organize themselves at the poles during prophase and telophase but arrange themselves in equatorial bands during metaphase and anaphase. Moreover, during meiosis Wolbachia are asymmetrically divided between some daughter cells. There is no strong relationship between the fusome and Wolbachia and we have not found evidence that bacteria cross the ring canals. Wolbachia were observed at the distal and proximal sides of individualization complexes. Multiple altered sperm structures were observed during the process of individualization of infected sperm.

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