Wolbachia in a major African crop pest increases susceptibility to viral disease rather than protects

Robert I. Graham, David Grzywacz, Wilfred L. Mushobozi, Kenneth Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Wolbachia are common vertically transmitted endosymbiotic bacteria found in < 70% of insect species. They have generated considerable recent interest due to the capacity of some strains to protect their insect hosts against viruses and the potential for this to reduce vector competence of a range of human diseases, including dengue. In contrast, here we provide data from field populations of a major crop pest, African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta), which show that the prevalence and intensity of infection with a nucleopolydrovirus (SpexNPV) is positively associated with infection with three strains of Wolbachia. We also use laboratory bioassays to demonstrate that infection with one of these strains, a male‐killer, increases host mortality due to SpexNPV by 6–14 times. These findings suggest that rather than protecting their lepidopteran host from viral infection, Wolbachia instead make them more susceptible. This finding potentially has implications for the biological control of other insect crop pests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1000
Number of pages8
JournalEcology Letters
Volume15
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

crop pest
viral disease
plant pests
Wolbachia
insect
infection
Spodoptera exempta
vector competence
insects
dengue
human diseases
biological control
insect pests
bioassay
virus
bioassays
Lepidoptera
mortality
viruses
bacterium

Keywords

  • African armyworm
  • Arthropod
  • Baculovirus
  • Insect outbreak
  • Male-killing
  • Nucleopolyhedrovirus
  • Parasite
  • Spodoptera
  • Symbiosis
  • Wolbachia

Cite this

Graham, Robert I. ; Grzywacz, David ; Mushobozi, Wilfred L. ; Wilson, Kenneth. / Wolbachia in a major African crop pest increases susceptibility to viral disease rather than protects. In: Ecology Letters. 2012 ; Vol. 15, No. 9. pp. 993-1000.
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abstract = "Wolbachia are common vertically transmitted endosymbiotic bacteria found in < 70{\%} of insect species. They have generated considerable recent interest due to the capacity of some strains to protect their insect hosts against viruses and the potential for this to reduce vector competence of a range of human diseases, including dengue. In contrast, here we provide data from field populations of a major crop pest, African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta), which show that the prevalence and intensity of infection with a nucleopolydrovirus (SpexNPV) is positively associated with infection with three strains of Wolbachia. We also use laboratory bioassays to demonstrate that infection with one of these strains, a male‐killer, increases host mortality due to SpexNPV by 6–14 times. These findings suggest that rather than protecting their lepidopteran host from viral infection, Wolbachia instead make them more susceptible. This finding potentially has implications for the biological control of other insect crop pests.",
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Wolbachia in a major African crop pest increases susceptibility to viral disease rather than protects. / Graham, Robert I.; Grzywacz, David; Mushobozi, Wilfred L.; Wilson, Kenneth.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 15, No. 9, 09.2012, p. 993-1000.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

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