Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21114563
Mol. Ecol. 2011 Jan;20(2):286-98
Wolbachia are maternally inherited endosymbionts that can invade arthropod populations through manipulation of their reproduction. In mosquitoes, Wolbachia induce embryonic death, known as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), whenever infected males mate with females either uninfected or infected with an incompatible strain. Although genetic determinants of CI are unknown, a functional model involving the so-called mod and resc factors has been proposed. Natural populations of Culex pipiens mosquito display a complex CI relationship pattern associated with the highest Wolbachia (wPip) genetic polymorphism reported so far. We show here that C. pipiens populations from La Réunion, a geographically isolated island in the southwest of the Indian Ocean, are infected with genetically closely related wPip strains. Crossing experiments reveal that these Wolbachia are all mutually compatible. However, crosses with genetically more distant wPip strains indicate that Wolbachia strains from La Réunion belong to at least five distinct incompatibility groups (or crossing types). These incompatibility properties which are strictly independent from the nuclear background, formally establish that in C. pipiens, CI is controlled by several Wolbachia mod/resc factors.