Wolbachia induces male-specific mortality in the mosquito culex pipiens (lin strain)

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Abstract

Background: Wolbachia are maternally inherited endosymbionts that infect a diverse range of invertebrates, including insects, arachnids, crustaceans and filarial nematodes. Wolbachia are responsible for causing diverse reproductive alterations in their invertebrate hosts that maximize their transmission to the next generation. Evolutionary theory suggests that due to maternal inheritance, Wolbachia should evolve toward mutualism in infected females, but strict maternal inheritance means there is no corresponding force to select for Wolbachia strains that are mutualistic in males. Methodology/Principal findings: Using cohort life-table analysis, we demonstrate that in the mosquito Culex pipiens (LIN strain), Wolbachia-infected females show no fitness costs due to infection. However, Wolbachia induces up to a 30% reduction in male lifespan. Conclusions/significance: These results indicate that the Wolbachia infection of the Culex pipiens LIN strain is virulent in a sex-specific manner. Under laboratory situations where mosquitoes generally mate at young ages, Wolbachia strains that reduce male survival could evolve by drift because increased mortality in older males is not a significant selective force.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere30381
JournalPloS one
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 12 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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