Macronutrients mediate the functional relationship between Drosophila and Wolbachia

Proc Biol Sci. 2015 Feb 7;282(1800):20142029. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2029.


Wolbachia are maternally inherited bacterial endosymbionts that naturally infect a diverse array of arthropods. They are primarily known for their manipulation of host reproductive biology, and recently, infections with Wolbachia have been proposed as a new strategy for controlling insect vectors and subsequent human-transmissible diseases. Yet, Wolbachia abundance has been shown to vary greatly between individuals and the magnitude of the effects of infection on host life-history traits and protection against infection is correlated to within-host Wolbachia abundance. It is therefore essential to better understand the factors that modulate Wolbachia abundance and effects on host fitness. Nutrition is known to be one of the most important mediators of host-symbiont interactions. Here, we used nutritional geometry to quantify the role of macronutrients on insect-Wolbachia relationships in Drosophila melanogaster. Our results show fundamental interactions between diet composition, host diet selection, Wolbachia abundance and effects on host lifespan and fecundity. The results and methods described here open a new avenue in the study of insect-Wolbachia relationships and are of general interest to numerous research disciplines, ranging from nutrition and life-history theory to public health.

Keywords: Drosophila; Wolbachia; macronutrient; nutrition; nutritional geometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / microbiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Male
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Symbiosis
  • Wolbachia / physiology*