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Keywords:

  • transinfection;
  • Wolbachia;
  • symbionts;
  • horizontal transmission;
  • pathogen interference;
  • insects;
  • arthropods;
  • arthropod-borne disease;
  • reproductive manipulation;
  • microinjection

Abstract

The bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia manipulates arthropod host biology in numerous ways, including sex ratio distortion and differential offspring survival. These bacteria infect a vast array of arthropods, some of which pose serious agricultural and human health threats. Wolbachia-mediated phenotypes such as cytoplasmic incompatibility and/or pathogen interference can be used for vector and disease control; however, many medically important vectors and important agricultural species are uninfected or are infected with strains of Wolbachia that do not elicit phenotypes desirable for disease or pest control. The ability to transfer strains of Wolbachia into new hosts (transinfection) can create novel Wolbachia–host associations. Transinfection has two primary benefits. First, Wolbachia–host interactions can be examined to tease apart the influence of the host and bacteria on phenotypes. Second, desirable phenotypes induced by Wolbachia in a particular insect can be transferred to another recipient host. This can allow the manipulation of insect populations that transmit pathogens or detrimentally affect agriculture. As such, transinfection is a valuable tool to explore Wolbachia biology and control arthropod-borne disease. The present review summarizes what is currently known about Wolbachia transinfection methods and applications. We also provide a comprehensive list of published successful and unsuccessful Wolbachia transinfection attempts.