Wolbachia and cytoplasmic incompatibility in mycophagous Drosophila and their relatives

Heredity (Edinb). 1995 Sep;75 ( Pt 3):320-6. doi: 10.1038/hdy.1995.140.


Bacterial symbionts belonging to the genus Wolbachia are associated with postzygotic reproductive incompatibility in a number of insect species. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of bacterial gene sequences, strains from 10 species belonging to the closely related quinaria, testacea and tripunctata groups of Drosophila were screened for the presence of Wolbachia in their reproductive tissues. Those screened included the mycophagous species D. falleni, D. recens, D. phalerata, D. testacea, D. neotestacea, D. orientacea, D. putrida and D. tripunctata, and the nonmycophagous species D. palustris and D. quinaria. Two species, D. recens and D. orientacea, were found to be infected with Wolbachia. Subsequent tests of four additional strains of D. recens found all to be infected with the bacteria. It was established that these bacteria cause partial cytoplasmic incompatibility in D. recens by antibiotic curing followed by crosses between cured and uncured strains. Curing was confirmed by a PCR assay. Although most species of insects shown to be infected with Wolbachia are cosmopolitan and/or have undergone recent range expansion in association with human activity, D. recens and D. orientacea are endemic species with specialized ecological habits. Preliminary molecular phylogenetic analysis indicates that, among the species we examined, D. quinaria is most closely related to D. recens. To determine whether the bacteria are involved in reproductive isolation between these two species, reciprocal crosses were carried out between D. quinaria and both infected and uninfected (cured) strains of D. recens. Although these species did mate with each other, all interspecific crosses failed to yield hybrid progeny, indicating that the bacteria are not responsible for reproductive incompatibility between these species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Cytoplasm / physiology*
  • DNA Primers
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / microbiology*
  • Drosophila / physiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rickettsiaceae / genetics
  • Rickettsiaceae / isolation & purification
  • Rickettsiaceae / physiology*


  • DNA Primers