Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) is induced in arthropods by the maternally inherited bacterium Wolbachia. When infected males mate with uninfected females or with females bearing a different Wolbachia variant, paternal chromosomes behave abnormally and embryos die. This pattern can be interpreted as resulting from two bacterial effects: One (usually termed mod, for modification) would affect sperm and induce embryo death, unless Wolbachia is also present in the egg, which implies the existence of a second effect, usually termed resc, for rescue. The fact that CI can occur in crosses between males and females infected by different Wolbachia shows that mod and resc interact in a specific manner. In other words, different compatibility types, or mod/resc pairs seem to have diverged from one (or a few) common ancestor(s). We are interested in the process allowing the evolution of mod/resc pairs. Here this question is addressed experimentally after cytoplasmic injection into a single host species (Drosophila simulans) by investigating compatibility relationships between closely related Wolbachia variants naturally evolving in different dipteran hosts: D. simulans, Drosophila melanogaster, and Rhagoletis cerasi. Our results suggest that closely related bacteria can be totally or partially incompatible. The compatibility relationships observed can be explained using a formal description of the mod and resc functions, implying both qualitative and quantitative variations.
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Vol. 58 • No. 9