Wolbachia: master manipulators of invertebrate biology

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Oct;6(10):741-51. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1969.


Wolbachia are common intracellular bacteria that are found in arthropods and nematodes. These alphaproteobacteria endosymbionts are transmitted vertically through host eggs and alter host biology in diverse ways, including the induction of reproductive manipulations, such as feminization, parthenogenesis, male killing and sperm-egg incompatibility. They can also move horizontally across species boundaries, resulting in a widespread and global distribution in diverse invertebrate hosts. Here, we review the basic biology of Wolbachia, with emphasis on recent advances in our understanding of these fascinating endosymbionts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropods / microbiology
  • Arthropods / physiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics
  • Nematoda / microbiology*
  • Nematoda / physiology*
  • Symbiosis / genetics
  • Symbiosis / physiology*
  • Wolbachia / genetics
  • Wolbachia / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins