The route of infection determines Wolbachia antibacterial protection in Drosophila

Vanika Gupta, Radhakrishnan B. Vasanthakrishnan, Jonathon Siva-Jothy, Katy M. Monteith, Samuel Brown, Pedro Ferreira Do Vale

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Bacterial symbionts are widespread among metazoans, and provide a range of beneficial functions. Wolbachia-mediated protection against viral infection has been extensively demonstrated in Drosophila. In mosquitoes that are artificially transinfected with D. melanogaster Wolbachia (wMel), protection from both viral and bacterial infections has been demonstrated. However, no evidence for Wolbachia-mediated antibacterial protection has been demonstrated in Drosophila to date. Here we show that the route of infection is key for Wolbachia-mediated antibacterial protection. D. melanogaster carrying Wolbachia showed reduced mortality during enteric – but not systemic - infection with the opportunist pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Wolbachia-mediated protection was more pronounced in male flies and is associated with increased early expression of the antimicrobial peptide Attacin A, and also increased expression of a ROS detoxification gene (Gst D8). These results highlight that the route of infection is important for symbiont-mediated protection from infection, that Wolbachia can protect hosts by eliciting a combination of resistance and disease tolerance mechanisms, and that these effects are sexually dimorphic. We discuss the importance of using ecologically relevant routes of infection to gain a better understanding of symbiont-mediated protection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1856
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2017

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