Infection dynamics of different Wolbachia-types within one host population

J Theor Biol. 2004 Dec 7;231(3):345-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.06.029.


Wolbachia are widespread intracellular symbionts of arthropods which are known to cause several reproductive manipulations in their hosts, the commonest of which being cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), male killing (MK), and the induction of parthenogenesis (PI). Strains of endosymbionts inducing one of these effects can be referred to as 'Wolbachia-types'. Here, we try to ascertain whether two of these Wolbachia-types can stably coexist within one population. We investigate this question by means of two discrete-time mathematical models which describe the dynamics of an infection of a host population with either CI- and MK- or CI- and PI-Wolbachia. We derive analytical solutions for two special cases of each model showing that stable coexistence of the respective Wolbachia-types is not possible if no doubly infected individuals occur within the population and that stable coexistence is possible when doubly infected hosts do exist and transmission of the endosymbionts is perfect. Moreover, we show that a population infected with either CI- or MK-Wolbachia at equilibrium can resist invasion of the respective other Wolbachia-type as a single infection. In contrast, a population infected with CI-Wolbachia can be invaded by PI-Wolbachia as a single infection with the CI-Wolbachia going extinct. Computer simulations confirmed these findings for the general models. We discuss our results with respect to the prevalence of the Wolbachia-types considered here and the emergence of PI- from CI-Wolbachia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm / parasitology
  • Death
  • Female
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Parthenogenesis
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / parasitology*
  • Symbiosis
  • Wolbachia*