Publication Year



Wolbachia, Drosophila melanogaster, biology, bacteria


Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Biology | Life Sciences


The maternally transmitted endosymbiont bacterium, Wolbachia, has been shown to infect populations of up to 70% of species of arthropods and nematodes and have a wide variety of reproductive effects in its arthropod hosts. The primary effects of the bacteria on the host are male killing, feminization, thelytokous parthenogenesis and cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). While these reproductive perturbations of the host increase the fitness of the bacteria without drastically affecting the fitness of the host, it has been shown that the fitness of the host can be altered in response to a Wolbachia infection. I have hypothesized that the relationship between the bacterium and its host consists of a delicate balance of resource utilization such that under normal symbiotic conditions, the bacterium does not cause a detectable change in the viability of the host. I have chosen to examine whether this symbiotic balance can be altered in the presence of different host genetic backgrounds, thus altering the viability of the Drosophila melanogaster in the presence of Wolbachia. Each different host genetic background is heterozygous for a deletion of a contiguous region of chromosome 3. Cases in which the viability is markedly decreased when flies are infected with Wolbachia (as compared with antibiotic-treated flies) may represent cases where the presence of Wolbachia is putting strain on an important biochemical pathway whose flux is also being affected by the presence of the deletion. This genetic screen could lead to the identification of biochemical or developmental pathways that Wolbachia is tapping into for its growth in this specialized intracellular environment. Results have not yet indicated a deficiency region is involved in a consistent alteration of host fitness but additional screens are necessary to complete the analysis.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status