Infection Dynamics of Cotransmitted Reproductive Symbionts Are Mediated by Sex, Tissue, and Development

Megan W. Jones, Laura C. Fricke, Cody J. Thorpe, Lauren O. Vander Esch, Amelia R.I. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

One of the most prevalent intracellular infections on earth is with Wolbachia, a bacterium in the Rickettsiales that infects a range of insects, crustaceans, chelicerates, and nematodes. Wolbachia is maternally transmitted to offspring and has profound effects on the reproduction and physiology of its hosts, which can result in reproductive isolation, altered vectorial capacity, mitochondrial sweeps, and even host speciation. Some populations stably harbor multiple Wolbachia strains, which can further contribute to reproductive isolation and altered host physiology. However, almost nothing is known about the requirements for multiple intracellular microbes to be stably maintained across generations while they likely compete for space and resources. Here, we use a coinfection of two Wolbachia strains (“wHa” and “wNo”) in Drosophila simulans to define the infection and transmission dynamics of an evolutionarily stable double infection. We find that a combination of sex, tissue, and host development contributes to the infection dynamics of the two microbes and that these infections exhibit a degree of niche partitioning across host tissues. wHa is present at a significantly higher titer than wNo in most tissues and developmental stages, but wNo is uniquely dominant in ovaries. Unexpectedly, the ratio of wHa to wNo in embryos does not reflect those observed in the ovaries, indicative of strain-specific transmission dynamics. Understanding how Wolbachia strains interact to establish and maintain stable infections has important implications for the development and effective implementation of Wolbachia-based vector biocontrol strategies, as well as more broadly defining how cooperation and conflict shape intracellular communities. IMPORTANCE Wolbachia is a maternally transmitted intracellular bacterium that manipulates the reproduction and physiology of arthropods, resulting in drastic effects on the fitness, evolution, and even speciation of its hosts. Some hosts naturally harbor multiple strains of Wolbachia that are stably transmitted across generations, but almost nothing is known about the factors that limit or promote these coinfections, which can have profound effects on the host’s biology and evolution and are under consideration as an insect-management tool. Here, we define the infection dynamics of a known stably transmitted double infection in Drosophila simulans with an eye toward understanding the patterns of infection that might facilitate compatibility between the two microbes. We find that a combination of sex, tissue, and development all contributes to infection dynamics of the coinfection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Volume88
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by UMN AGREETT startup funds to A.R.I.L., L.C.F. was supported by UMN DOVE and UMN CFANS Match fellowships. M.W.J. was supported by an Excellence in Entomology Fellowship from UMN. Many thanks to Brandon Cooper for gifting us the Drosophila simulans stock. We declare that we have no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Jones et al.

Keywords

  • Wolbachia
  • coinfection
  • cytoplasmic incompatibility
  • symbiosis
  • vertical transmission

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Infection Dynamics of Cotransmitted Reproductive Symbionts Are Mediated by Sex, Tissue, and Development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this