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Insect Mol Biol. 2015 Feb;24(1):1-12. doi: 10.1111/imb.12128. Epub 2014 Sep 15.

How do hosts react to endosymbionts? A new insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the Wolbachia-host association.

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Department of Entomology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China.


Wolbachia is an intracellular bacterium that has aroused intense interest because of its ability to alter the biology of its host in diverse ways. In the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, Wolbachia can induce complex cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) phenotypes and fitness changes, although little is known about the mechanisms. In the present study, we selected a strain of T. urticae, in which Wolbachia infection was associated with strong CI and enhanced female fecundity, to investigate changes in the transcriptome of T. urticae in Wolbachia-infected vs. uninfected lines. The responses were found to be sex-specific, with the transcription of 251 genes being affected in females and 171 genes being affected in males. Some of the more profoundly affected genes in both sexes were lipocalin genes and genes involved in oxidation reduction, digestion and detoxification. Several of the differentially expressed genes have potential roles in reproduction. Interestingly, unlike certain Wolbachia transinfections in novel hosts, the Wolbachia-host association in the present study showed no clear evidence of host immune priming by Wolbachia, although a few potential immune genes were affected.


Wolbachia; gene expression; transcriptome sequencing; two-spotted spider mite

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