Sex-specific behavioural symptoms of viral gut infection and Wolbachia in Drosophila melanogaster

Pedro Ferreira Do Vale, Michael D Jardine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


All organisms are infected with a range of symbionts spanning the spectrum of beneficial mutualists to detrimental parasites. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a good example, as both endosymbiotic Wolbachia, and pathogenic Drosophila C Virus (DCV) commonly infect it. While the pathophysiology and immune responses against both symbionts are the focus of intense study, the behavioural effects of these infections have received less attention. Here we report sex-specific behavioural responses to these infections in D. melanogaster. DCV infection caused increased sleep in female flies, but had no detectable effect in male flies. The presence of Wolbachia did not reduce this behavioural response to viral infection. We also found evidence for a sex-specific cost of Wolbachia, as male flies infected with the endosymbiont became more lethargic when awake. We discuss these behavioural symptoms as potentially adaptive sickness behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28–32
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Early online date18 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


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