Increased male mating rate in Drosophila is associated with Wolbachia infection

J Evol Biol. 2006 Nov;19(6):1964-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01143.x.


The maternally inherited bacterium Wolbachia pipientis infects 25-75% of arthropods and manipulates host reproduction to improve its transmission. One way Wolbachia achieves this is by inducing cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), where crosses between infected males and uninfected females are inviable. Infected males suffer reduced fertility through CI and reduced sperm production. However, Wolbachia induce lower levels of CI in nonvirgin males. We examined the impact of Wolbachia on mating behaviour in male Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans, which display varying levels of CI, and show that infected males mate at a higher rate than uninfected males in both species. This may serve to increase the spread of Wolbachia, or alternatively, may be a behavioural adaptation employed by males to reduce the level of CI. Mating at high rate restores reproductive compatibility with uninfected females resulting in higher male reproductive success thus promoting male promiscuity. Increased male mating rates also have implications for the transmission of Wolbachia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / microbiology*
  • Drosophila / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / microbiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / physiopathology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*
  • Wolbachia / physiology*