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Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Jun 14;284(1856). pii: 20170809. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0809.

The route of infection determines Wolbachia antibacterial protection in Drosophila.

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Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FL, UK.
IGDR-CNRS UMR 6290, 2, Avenue Du Professeur Léon Bernard, 35043 Rennes, France.
School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0230, USA.
Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FL, UK
Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FL, UK.


Bacterial symbionts are widespread among metazoans and provide a range of beneficial functions. Wolbachia-mediated protection against viral infection has been extensively demonstrated in Drosophila. In mosquitoes that are artificially transinfected with Drosophila melanogaster Wolbachia (wMel), protection from both viral and bacterial infections has been demonstrated. However, no evidence for Wolbachia-mediated antibacterial protection has been demonstrated in Drosophila to date. Here, we show that the route of infection is key for Wolbachia-mediated antibacterial protection. Drosophila melanogaster carrying Wolbachia showed reduced mortality during enteric-but not systemic-infection with the opportunist pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosaWolbachia-mediated protection was more pronounced in male flies and is associated with increased early expression of the antimicrobial peptide Attacin A, and also increased expression of a reactive oxygen species detoxification gene (Gst D8). These results highlight that the route of infection is important for symbiont-mediated protection from infection, that Wolbachia can protect hosts by eliciting a combination of resistance and disease tolerance mechanisms, and that these effects are sexually dimorphic. We discuss the importance of using ecologically relevant routes of infection to gain a better understanding of symbiont-mediated protection.


Drosophila; Wolbachia; infection tolerance; invertebrate immunity; sexual dimorphism; symbiont protection

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