Overcoming cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila

Proc Biol Sci. 1998 Mar 7;265(1394):391-5. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1998.0307.


The endocellular microbe Wolbachia pipientis infects a wide variety of invertebrate species, in which its presence is closely linked to a form of reproductive failure termed cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI renders infected males unable to father offspring when mated to uninfected females. Because CI can dramatically affect fitness in natural populations, mechanisms that abate CI can have equally large impacts on fitness. We have discovered that repeated copulation by Wolbachia-infected male Drosophila simulans significantly diminishes CI. Repeated copulation does not prevent Wolbachia from populating developing spermatids, but may reduce the time during spermatogenesis when Wolbachia can express CI. This restoration of fertility in premated infected males could have important implications for Wolbachia transmission and persistence in nature and for its exploitation as an agent of biological pest control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / microbiology*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Rickettsiaceae / physiology*
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / physiopathology*
  • Spermatozoa / microbiology
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*