Transinfected Wolbachia strains induce a complex of cytoplasmic incompatibility phenotypes: Roles of CI factor genes

J. Li, B. Dong, Y. Zhong and Z. X. Li,  Environmental Microbiology,  2023.

Wolbachia can modulate the reproductive development of their hosts in multiple modes, and cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) is the most well-studied phenotype. The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is highly receptive to different Wolbachia strains: wCcep strain from the rice moth Corcyra cephalonica and wMel strain from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster could successfully establish and induce CI in transinfected whiteflies. Nevertheless, it is unknown what will happen when these two exogenous Wolbachia strains are co-transinfected into a new host. Here, we artificially transinferred wCcep and wMel into the whitefly and established double- and singly-transinfected B. tabaci isofemale lines. Reciprocal crossing experiments showed that wCcep and wMel induced a complex of CI phenotypes in the recipient host, including unidirectional and bidirectional CI. We next sequenced the whole genome of wCcep and performed a comparative analysis of the CI factor genes between wCcep and wMel, indicating that their cif genes were phylogenetically and structurally divergent, which can explain the crossing results. The amino acid sequence identity and structural features of Cif proteins may be useful parameters for predicting their function. Structural comparisons between CifA and CifB provide valuable clues for explaining the induction or rescue of CI observed in crossing experiments between transinfected hosts.

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