Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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.


Vanderbilt Research:

Graphical Summary: