The bacterial symbiont Wolbachia induces resistance to RNA viral infections in Drosophila melanogaster

Luís Teixeira*, Álvaro Ferreira, Michael Ashburner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

777 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Wolbachia are vertically transmitted, obligatory intracellular bacteria that infect a great number of species of arthropods and nematodes. In insects, they are mainly known for disrupting the reproductive biology of their hosts in order to increase their transmission through the female germline. In Drosophila melanogaster, however, a strong and consistent effect of Wolbachia infection has not been found. Here we report that a bacterial infection renders D. melanogaster more resistant to Drosophila C virus, reducing the load of viruses in infected flies. We identify these resistance-inducing bacteria as Wolbachia. Furthermore, we show that Wolbachia also increases resistance of Drosophila to two other RNA virus infections (Nora virus and Flock House virus) but not to a DNA virus infection (Insect Iridescent Virus 6). These results identify a new major factor regulating D. melanogaster resistance to infection by RNA viruses and contribute to the idea that the response of a host to a particular pathogen also depends on its interactions with other microorganisms. This is also, to our knowledge, the first report of a strong beneficial effect of Wolbachia infection in D. melanogaster. The induced resistance to natural viral pathogens may explain Wolbachia prevalence in natural populations and represents a novel Wolbachia-host interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1000002
Pages (from-to)2753-2763
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS Biology
Volume6
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

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