Tropical Drosophila pandora carry Wolbachia infections causing cytoplasmic incompatibility or male killing

Kelly M. Richardson, Michele Schiffer, Philippa C. Griffin, Siu F. Lee, Ary A. Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Wolbachia infections have been described in several Drosophila species, but relatively few have been assessed for phenotypic effects. Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) is the most common phenotypic effect that has been detected, while some infections cause male killing or feminization, and many Wolbachia infections have few host effects. Here, we describe two new infections in a recently described species, Drosophila pandora, one of which causes near-complete CI and near-perfect maternal transmission (the “CI” strain). The other infection is a male killer (the “MK” strain), which we confirm by observing reinitiation of male production following tetracycline treatment. No incompatibility was detected in crosses between CI strain males and MK strain females, and rare MK males do not cause CI. Molecular analyses indicate that the CI and MK infections are distantly related and the CI infection is closely related to the wRi infection of Drosophila simulans. Two population surveys indicate that all individuals are infected with Wolbachia, but the MK infection is uncommon. Given patterns of incompatibility among the strains, the infection dynamics is expected to be governed by the relative fitness of the females, suggesting that the CI infection should have a higher fitness. This was evidenced by changes in infection frequencies and sex ratios in population cages initiated at different starting frequencies of the infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1791-1802
Number of pages12
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytoplasmic incompatibility
  • Drosophila
  • male killing
  • MLST
  • phenotypic effects
  • Wolbachia


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