SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Wolbachia pipientis;
  • Drosophila simulans;
  • Aedes albopictus;
  • insect defensin;
  • insect immunity

Abstract

Wolbachia are intracellular maternally inherited microorganisms that are associated with reproductive abnormalities such as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), feminization and parthenogenesis in the various arthropod species they infect. Surveys indicate that these bacteria infect more than 16% of all insect species as well as isopods, mites and nematodes, making Wolbachia one of the most ubiquitous parasites yet described. However, nothing is known about the interactions of this bacterium with the host’s immune system. We studied the expression of inducible antimicrobial markers in the adults of two Wolbachia infected insect species, Drosophila simulans and Aedes albopictus. The lack of available immune markers in the mosquito species led us to clone part of the defensin gene from this species, which was found to be very similar to the other mosquito defensins cloned from Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti. Comparisons of the expression pattern of the antibacterial markers between Wolbachia-infected and cured lines, and also between bacteria-challenged and unchallenged adults indicated that Wolbachia does not either constitutively induce or suppress the transcription of these antibacterial genes. In addition, no difference in the transcription of these genes was found between double and single Wolbachia-infected strains or between strains in which Wolbachia has different tissue tropisms.