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Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Oct;22(10):506-9. Epub 2007 Sep 7.

The evolution of obligate mutualism: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genetics, Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Wolbachia is best known as a facultative endosymbiotic parasite, manipulating host reproduction. However, it has also evolved as an obligate mutualist at least twice. In a recent paper, Pannebakker et al. identify a possible mechanism for such a transition from facultative parasitism to obligate mutualism in a parasitic wasp in which Wolbachia are required for producing eggs (oogenesis). Their proposed mechanism suggests that compensatory evolution in the host to counter the harmful effects of Wolbachia is the basis of this evolutionary transition.

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