Phage WO of Wolbachia: Lambda of the endosymbiont world

Bethany N. Kent, Seth R. Bordenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


The discovery of an extraordinarily high level of mobile elements in the genome of Wolbachia, a widespread arthropod and nematode endosymbiont, suggests that this bacterium could be an excellent model for assessing the evolution and function of mobile DNA in specialized bacteria. In this paper, we discuss how studies on the temperate bacteriophage WO of Wolbachia have revealed unexpected levels of genomic flux and are challenging previously held views about the clonality of obligate intracellular bacteria. We also discuss the roles this phage might play in the Wolbachia-arthropod symbiosis and infer how this research can be translated to combating human diseases vectored by arthropods. We expect that this temperate phage will be a preeminent model system to understand phage genetics, evolution and ecology in obligate intracellular bacteria. In this sense, phage WO might be likened to phage λ of the endosymbiont world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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