Background: Wolbachia intracellular bacteria can manipulate the reproduction of their arthropod hosts, including inducing sterility between populations known as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). Certain strains have been identified that are unable to induce or rescue CI, including wAu from Drosophila. Genome sequencing and comparison with CI-inducing related strain wMel was undertaken in order to better understand the molecular basis of the phenotype. Results: Although the genomes were broadly similar, several rearrangements were identified, particularly in the prophage regions. Many orthologous genes contained single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) between the two strains, but a subset containing major differences that would likely cause inactivation in wAu were identified, including the absence of the wMel ortholog of a gene recently identified as a CI candidate in a proteomic study. The comparative analyses also focused on a family of transcriptional regulator genes implicated in CI in previous work, and revealed numerous differences between the strains, including those that would have major effects on predicted function. Conclusions: The study provides support for existing candidates and novel genes that may be involved in CI, and provides a basis for further functional studies to examine the molecular basis of the phenotype.
Sutton, E. R., Harris, S. R., Parkhill, J., & Sinkins, S. P. (2014). Comparative genome analysis of Wolbachia strain wAu. BMC Genomics, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-15-928