Are filarial nematode Wolbachia obligate mutualist symbionts?

Trends Ecol Evol. 2004 Apr;19(4):163-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2004.01.002.


The intracellular symbiotic bacteria of filarial nematodes have inspired new ideas for the control of disease using antibacterial drugs. For effective, long-term control, this requires that the bacteria are essential to their nematode hosts. Two recent studies offer conflicting evidence: long, close coevolution between most filarial nematodes and their symbionts contrasts with many species having naturally lost them. An attempt to transfer symbionts to an uninfected host found that the bacteria did not thrive, suggesting they are adapted to one host.