Incidence of a new sex-ratio-distorting endosymbiotic bacterium among arthropods

Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Sep 7;270(1526):1857-65. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2003.2425.


Many intracellular micro-organisms are now known to cause reproductive abnormalities and other phenomena in their hosts. The endosymbiont Wolbachia is the best known of these reproductive manipulators owing to its extremely high incidence among arthropods and the diverse host effects it has been implicated as causing. However, recent evidence suggests that another intracellular bacterium, a Cytophaga-like organism (CLO), may also induce several reproductive effects in its hosts. Here, we present the first survey of arthropod hosts for infection by the CLO. We use a sensitive hemi-nested polymerase chain reaction method to screen 223 species from 20 arthropod orders for infection by the CLO and Wolbachia. The results indicate that, although not as prevalent as Wolbachia, the CLO infects a significant number of arthropod hosts (ca. 7.2%). In addition, double infections of the CLO and Wolbachia were found in individuals of seven arthropod species. Sequencing analysis of the 16S rDNA region of the CLO indicates evidence for horizontal transmission of the CLO strains. We discuss these results with reference to future studies on host effects induced by intracellular micro-organisms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropods / physiology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cytophaga / genetics*
  • Cytophaga / physiology*
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Symbiosis / physiology*
  • Wolbachia / physiology*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Ribosomal

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AY279401
  • GENBANK/AY279402
  • GENBANK/AY279403
  • GENBANK/AY279404
  • GENBANK/AY279405
  • GENBANK/AY279406
  • GENBANK/AY279407
  • GENBANK/AY279408
  • GENBANK/AY279409
  • GENBANK/AY279410
  • GENBANK/AY279411
  • GENBANK/AY279412
  • GENBANK/AY279413
  • GENBANK/AY279414
  • GENBANK/AY279415
  • GENBANK/AY285777