Widespread prevalence of Wolbachia in laboratory stocks and the implications for Drosophila research

Michael E. Clark, Cort L. Anderson, Jessica Cande, Timothy L. Karr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Wolbachia is an intracellular microbe harbored by a wide variety of arthropods (including Drosophila) and filarial nematodes. Employing several different strategies including male killing, induced parthenogenesis, cytoplasmic incompatibility, and feminization, and acting by as-yet-unknown mechanisms, Wolbachia alters host reproduction to increase its representation within a population. Wolbachia is closely associated with gametic incompatibility but also interacts with Drosophila in other, little understood ways. We report here significant and widespread infection of Wolbachia within laboratory stocks and its real and potential impact on Drosophila research. We describe the results of a survey indicating that ∼30% of stocks currently housed at the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center are infected with Wolbachia. Cells of both reproductive tissues and numerous somatic organs harbor Wolbachia and display considerable variation in infection levels within and between both tissue types. These results are discussed from the perspective of Wolbachia's potential confounding effects on both host fitness and phenotypic analyses. In addition to this cautionary message, the infection status of stock centers may provide further opportunities to study the genetic basis of host/symbiosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1667-1675
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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