Expression of cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila simulans and its impact on infection frequencies and distribution of Wolbachia pipientis

Evolution. 2000 Oct;54(5):1661-72. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2000.tb00710.x.


The aim of this study is to examine the expression of cytoplasmic incompatibility and investigate the distribution and population frequencies of Wolbachia pipientis strains in Drosophila simulans. Nucleotide sequence data from 16S rDNA and a Wolbachia surface protein coding sequence and cytoplasmic incompatibility assays identify four distinct Wolbachia strains: wHa, wRi, wMa, and wAu. The levels of cytoplasmic incompatibility between six lines carrying these strains of bacteria and three control lines without bacteria are characterized. Flies infected with wHa and wRi are bidirectionally incompatible, and males that carry either strain can only successfully produce normal numbers of offspring with females carrying the same bacterial strain. Males infected with wAu do not express incompatibility. Males infected with the wMa strain express intermediate incompatibility when mated to females with no bacteria and no incompatibility with females with any other Wolbachia strain. We conduct polymerase chain reaction/restriction fragment length polymorphism assays to distinguish the strain of Wolbachia and the mitochondrial haplotype to survey populations for each type and associations between them. Drosophila simulans is known to have three major mitochondrial haplotypes (siI, sill, and siIII) and two subtypes (siIIA and siIIB). All infected lines of the sil haplotype carry wHa, wNo, or both; wMa and wNo are closely related and it is not clear whether they are distinct strains or variants of the same strain. Infected lines with the silIA haplotype harbor wRi and the siIIB haplotype carries wAu. The wMa infection is found in siIII haplotype lines. The phenotypic expression of cytoplasmic incompatibility and its relation to between-population differences in frequencies of Wolbachia infection are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Cytoplasm / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / microbiology*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / microbiology
  • Female
  • Genetics, Population
  • Madagascar
  • Male
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Reunion
  • Wolbachia / classification
  • Wolbachia / genetics
  • Wolbachia / physiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S