Paternal grandmother age affects the strength of Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility in...
Layton, E.M., On, J., Perlmutter, J., & Bordenstein, S.R. & Shropshire, J.D. (2019). Paternal grandmother age affects the strength of Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility in Drosophila melanogaster. mBio. 10(6).
Wolbachia are obligate intracellular bacteria that are globally distributed in half of all arthropod species. As the most abundant maternally inherited microbe in animals, Wolbachia manipulate host reproduction via reproductive parasitism strategies, including cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI manifests as embryonic death when Wolbachia-modified sperm fertilize uninfected eggs but not maternally infected eggs. Thus, CI can provide a relative fitness advantage to Wolbachia-infected females and drive the infection through a population. In the genetic model Drosophila melanogaster, the Wolbachia strain wMel induces variable CI, making mechanistic studies in D. melanogaster cumbersome. Here, we demonstrate that sons of older paternal D. melanogaster grandmothers induce stronger CI than sons of younger paternal grandmothers, and we term this relationship the “paternal grandmother age effect” (PGAE). Moreover, the embryos and adult sons of older D. melanogaster grandmothers have higher Wolbachia densities, correlating with their ability to induce stronger CI. In addition, we report that Wolbachia density positively correlates with female age and decreases after mating, suggesting that females transmit Wolbachia loads that are proportional to their own titers. These findings reveal a transgenerational impact of age on wMel-induced CI, elucidate Wolbachia density dynamics in D. melanogaster, and provide a methodological advance to studies aimed at understanding wMel-induced CI in the D. melanogaster model.