Wolbachia infection increases recapture rate of field-released Drosophila melanogaster

Eric P. Caragata, Kathryn M. Real, Myron P. Zalucki, Elizabeth A. McGraw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Wolbachia pipientis is a commonly occurring endosymbiont with well-characterised effects on host reproductive biology associated with its infection of the gonads. Wolbachia infections are also widespread in somatic tissues and consequently they have the potential to play a much broader role in host biology. Recently, Wolbachia was shown to alter the locomotion of Drosophila melanogaster in response to food cues in the laboratory. To determine whether this laboratory-based phenotype might translate to real differences for insects in the field, we performed a simple mark-release-recapture experiment with Wolbachia-infected D. melanogaster in a forested habitat. We demonstrate that infected flies are recaptured at twice the rate of uninfected flies, although infection does not affect the distance traveled by those flies recaptured. The differences in recapture could be explained by infection-induced changes in physiology or behavior. If generalizable, such changes may affect the interpretation of behavioral studies for Wolbachia-infected insects and have potential implications for the dynamics of Wolbachia infections in natural populations, including situations where Wolbachia-infected insects are being released for biological control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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