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Virulence, Multiple Infections and Regulation of Symbiotic Population in the Wolbachia-Asobara tabida Symbiosis

Authors
Journal
Genetics
0016-6731
Publisher
The Genetics Society of America
Publication Date
Volume
168
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1534/genetics.104.026716
Keywords
  • Investigations
Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

The density and regulation of microbial populations are important factors in the success of symbiotic associations. High bacterial density may improve transmission to the next generation, but excessive replication could turn out to be costly to the host and result in higher virulence. Moreover, differences in virulence may also depend on the diversity of symbionts. Using the maternally transmitted symbiont Wolbachia, we investigated how bacterial density and diversity are regulated and influence virulence in host insects subject to multiple infection. The model we used was the wasp Asobara tabida that naturally harbors three different Wolbachia strains, of which two are facultative and induce cytoplasmic incompatibility, whereas the third is necessary for the host to achieve oogenesis. Using insect lines infected with different subsets of Wolbachia strains, we show that: (i) some traits of A. tabida are negatively affected by Wolbachia; (ii) the physiological cost increases with the number of co-infecting strains, which also corresponds to an increase in the total bacterial density; and (iii) the densities of the two facultative Wolbachia strains are independent of one another, whereas the obligatory strain is less abundant when it is alone, suggesting that there is some positive interaction with the other strains.

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