Removing endosymbiotic Wolbachia specifically decreases lifespan of females and competitiveness in a laboratory strain of Drosophila melanogaster
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To understand specific symbiotic relationships ensuring stable existing of the bacterium Wolbachia in laboratory strains of Drosophila melanogaster, the imago lifespan and senescence rate, as well as competitiveness, have been evaluated as components of fitness in females from the following laboratory strains: (1) inbred strain 95 infected with Wolbachia; (2) two uninfected strains obtained by tetracycline treatment that were genetically similar to strain 95; and (3) two control, uninfected, wild-type laboratory strains that were used to assess the possible effects of the antibiotic on the studied characters in the absence of Wolbachia. The results have shown that infected females have longer lifespan and competitiveness than females with the same genotype uninfected with Wolbachia. The increase in the senescence and mortality rates with age was also slower in infected females. It is noteworthy that tetracycline does not affect the lifespan of females from the two control, uninfected, wild-type strains. Therefore, the antibiotic is not the cause of the positive changes in fitness that were observed in infected females. The obtained results are the first direct evidence that the relationships in the Wolbachia-D. melanogaster symbiotic system are mutualistic rather than parasitic, at least in micropopulations adapted to laboratory conditions.
KeywordsTetracycline Laboratory Strain Cytoplasmic Incompatibility Wolbachia Infection Competition Index
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