Investigating Wolbachia symbiont-mediated host protection against a bacterial pathogen using a natural Wolbachia nuclear insert

C. Prigot-Maurice, B. Lheraud, S. Guéritault, S. Beltran-Bech, R. Cordaux, J. Peccoud and C. Braquart-Varnier,  Journal of Invertebrate Pathology,  197:107893. 2023.

Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts provide protection against pathogens in various arthropod species but the underlying mechanisms remain misunderstood. By using a natural Wolbachia nuclear insert (f-element) in the isopod Armadillidium vulgare, we explored whether Wolbachia presence is mandatory to observe protection in this species or the presence of its genes is sufficient. We assessed survival of closely related females carrying or lacking the f-element (and lacking Wolbachia) challenged with the bacterial pathogen Salmonella enterica. Despite marginal significant effects, the f-element alone did not appear to confer survival benefits to its host, suggesting that Wolbachia presence in cells is crucial for protection.

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