Mindy Prado

Wolbachia is a microbe that has effects on invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans, mites and filarial nematodes. The most common affliction caused by Wolbachia is an incompatibility between infected males and uninfected females. There is little known about this microbe due to its fastidious nature and only once a successful culture was made by tissue culture.

What is known of this microbe is that it is considered an obligate intracellular bacterium. They live in the vacuoles of eukaryotic cells as a cytoplasmic symbiont. Wolbachia are morphologically coccoid or bacilliform in structure. They can range in size from 0.8 to 1.5 micrometers. They are also gram negative bacteria.

Wolbachia has been found in the association of invertebrates. These could include insects, mites, spiders, terrestrial crustaceans and nematodes. It is transmitted transovarialy to offspring. Of the species sampled, 20-75 percent of the species were infected.

It is sexually disruptive within the insect species. It generates cytoplasmic incompatibility by infected females to favor reproduction with these infected females. It can override chromosomal sex determination, induce parthenogenesis, selectively kill males, and effect sperm competition.

One of the preferred hosts for Wolbachia is wasps. In the case of the jewel wasp, uninfected females that mate with infected males are able to produce offspring, but all the offspring are males. In many other wasps, a female will reproduce by parthenogenesis, by duplicating a set of chromosomes that develop into females.

Because Wolbachia influences reproductive habits, it is under consideration as to whether it has played a role in developing new species. Not enough about this microbe is known yet to make any determinations, so time will tell as we learn more about these microbes and what role they really play in the world.





*Disclaimer - This report was written by a student participaring in a microbiology course at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The accuracy of the contents of this report is not guaranteed and it is recommended that you seek additional sources of information to verify the contents.


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