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  Topic: Science Break, Selected Shorts< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 15 2009,20:21   

The Bacterial Symbiont Wolbachia Induces Resistance to RNA Viral Infections in Drosophila melanogaster in PLoS Biology.

Wolbachia are vertically transmitted, obligatory intracellular bacteria that infect a great number of species of arthropods and nematodes. In insects, they are mainly known for disrupting the reproductive biology of their hosts in order to increase their transmission through the female germline. In Drosophila melanogaster, however, a strong and consistent effect of Wolbachia infection has not been found. Here we report that a bacterial infection renders D. melanogaster more resistant to Drosophila C virus, reducing the load of viruses in infected flies. We identify these resistance-inducing bacteria as Wolbachia. Furthermore, we show that Wolbachia also increases resistance of Drosophila to two other RNA virus infections (Nora virus and Flock House virus) but not to a DNA virus infection (Insect Iridescent Virus 6). These results identify a new major factor regulating D. melanogaster resistance to infection by RNA viruses and contribute to the idea that the response of a host to a particular pathogen also depends on its interactions with other microorganisms. This is also, to our knowledge, the first report of a strong beneficial effect of Wolbachia infection in D. melanogaster. The induced resistance to natural viral pathogens may explain Wolbachia prevalence in natural populations and represents a novel Wolbachia–host interaction.

Interesting in itself, but something in the intro also caught my eye.

Wolbachia were first discovered infecting the mosquito Culex pipiens in 1924, but interest in these bacteria mainly arose when it was shown that infected mosquito males do not successfully breed with noninfected females. This phenomenon is termed cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) and has, since then, been found in many other insect species infected with Wolbachia. In some hosts, Wolbachia can also cause feminization, male killing, or parthenogenesis. All these mechanisms profoundly alter the reproductive biology of their hosts and are thought to increase the success of bacterial transmission through the female germline. In the majority of known cases, Wolbachia behave like reproductive parasites of their hosts.

(references removed and emphasis added)

That's just cool. (Weird, but cool.)

Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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