Overcoming cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila

T. L. Karr, W. Yang, M. E. Feder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The endocellular microbe Wolbachia pipientis infects a wide variety of invertebrate species, in which its presence is closely linked to a form of reproductive failure termed cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI renders infected males unable to father offspring when mated to uninfected females. Because CI can dramatically affect fitness in natural populations, mechanisms that abate CI can have equally large impacts on fitness. We have discovered that repeated copulation by Wolbachia-infected male Drosophila simulans significantly diminishes CI. Repeated copulation does not prevent Wolbachia from populating developing spermatids, but may reduce the time during spermatogenesis when Wolbachia can express CI. This restoration of fertility in premated infected males could have important implications for Wolbachia transmission and persistence in nature and for its exploitation as an agent of biological pest control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-395
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1394
StatePublished - Mar 7 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytoplasmic incompatibility
  • Drosophila
  • Fertilization
  • Sperm
  • Wolbachia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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