Publication Year



Biology, Wolbachia, insects, endosymbiont


Biology | Entomology | Life Sciences


Wolbachia is a maternally inherited endosymbiont found in 16% of insect species. Its widespread presence in genetically diverse hosts, along with observation of transfer between young in parasitic wasps demonstrates that it is occasionally passed horizontally although vertical transfer predominates. Drosophila melanogaster has an innate immune system that includes antimicrobial peptides that are created in response to the presence of a pathogen. These peptides are semi-specific to the type of infection, and different peptides are produced in response to a fungal or a bacterial infection. Using three transgenic antimicrobial peptide-lacZ fly strains (diptericin-lacZ, cecropin-lacZ, and drosomycin-lacZ) we wished to discover whether D. melanogaster mounts an immune response to Wolbachia, and if so, which of the peptides is most responsive. Due to variation in the assay, we were not entirely successful in duplicating results of an immune response against E. coli as seen by other labs. As we were unable to duplicate results with an agent known to promote an immune response, we were therefore unable to document a response or lack of response to Wolbachia. Further research in this field may explain why Wolbachia only exists intracellularly in it hosts (if the immune system attacks Wolbachia that is present extracellularly) or may explain why Wolbachia also undergoes horizontal transfer (if no immune response is seen so Wolbachia would be able to be passed between hosts).

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status