Transinfection: A method to investigate Wolbachia-host interactions and control arthropod-borne disease

G. L. Hughes, J. L. Rasgon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia manipulates arthropod host biology in numerous ways, including sex ratio distortion and differential offspring survival. These bacteria infect a vast array of arthropods, some of which pose serious agricultural and human health threats. Wolbachia-mediated phenotypes such as cytoplasmic incompatibility and/or pathogen interference can be used for vector and disease control; however, many medically important vectors and important agricultural species are uninfected or are infected with strains of Wolbachia that do not elicit phenotypes desirable for disease or pest control. The ability to transfer strains of Wolbachia into new hosts (transinfection) can create novel Wolbachia-host associations. Transinfection has two primary benefits. First, Wolbachia-host interactions can be examined to tease apart the influence of the host and bacteria on phenotypes. Second, desirable phenotypes induced by Wolbachia in a particular insect can be transferred to another recipient host. This can allow the manipulation of insect populations that transmit pathogens or detrimentally affect agriculture. As such, transinfection is a valuable tool to explore Wolbachia biology and control arthropod-borne disease. The present review summarizes what is currently known about Wolbachia transinfection methods and applications. We also provide a comprehensive list of published successful and unsuccessful Wolbachia transinfection attempts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-151
Number of pages11
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Insect Science


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