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PeerJ. 2018 Sep 3;6:e5486. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5486. eCollection 2018.

A bioinformatics approach to identifying Wolbachia infections in arthropods.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY, United States of America.
2
Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, United States of America.

Abstract

Wolbachia is the most widespread endosymbiont, infecting >20% of arthropod species, and capable of drastically manipulating the host's reproductive mechanisms. Conventionally, diagnosis has relied on PCR amplification; however, PCR is not always a reliable diagnostic technique due to primer specificity, strain diversity, degree of infection and/or tissue sampled. Here, we look for evidence of Wolbachia infection across a wide array of arthropod species using a bioinformatic approach to detect the Wolbachia genes ftsZ, wsp, and the groE operon in next-generation sequencing samples available through the NCBI Sequence Read Archive. For samples showing signs of infection, we attempted to assemble entire Wolbachia genomes, and in order to better understand the relationships between hosts and symbionts, phylogenies were constructed using the assembled gene sequences. Out of the 34 species with positively identified infections, eight species of arthropod had not previously been recorded to harbor Wolbachia infection. All putative infections cluster with known representative strains belonging to supergroup A or B, which are known to only infect arthropods. This study presents an efficient bioinformatic approach for post-sequencing diagnosis and analysis of Wolbachia infection in arthropods.

KEYWORDS:

Anopheles; Bioinformatics; Insects; NCBI SRA; Wolbachia

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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