New paper on the phage genes that hijack animal reproduction
Wolbachia are maternally transmitted bacteria that are estimated to infect millions of arthropod species worldwide. One of Wolbachia's greatest weapons is the ability to poison sperm and
nullify that poison in eggs, all of which enable the bacteria to spread
like wildfire in arthropods and to control mosquitoes. Indeed, the World Health Organization recently recommended pilot deployment of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to curb viral transmission to humans. Turns out that
under the hood of this cunning phenomena called cytoplasmic
incompatibility is a simple genetic basis: two phage genes poison the sperm
and one of those same genes ensures the infected eggs live. Ergo, the
'Two-by-One' model of cytoplasmic incompatibility by talented graduate student Dylan Shropshire, former undergraduate and technician Danny On, and two current undergraduates Helen Zhou and Emily Layton. See below for a link to the paper, VU news story, and graphical summary.