Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Symbiont-Mediated Cytoplasmic Incompatibility: What have we Learned in 50 Years?

Version 1 : Received: 13 August 2020 / Approved: 17 August 2020 / Online: 17 August 2020 (04:35:31 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 9 September 2020 / Approved: 11 September 2020 / Online: 11 September 2020 (06:27:07 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: eLife 2020, 9, e61989
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.61989


Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) is the most common symbiont-induced reproductive manipulation. Specifically, symbiont-induced sperm modifications cause catastrophic mitotic defects in the fertilized embryo and ensuing lethality in crosses between symbiotic males and either aposymbiotic females or females harboring a different symbiont strain. However, if the female carries the same symbiont strain, then embryos develop properly, which imparts a relative fitness benefit to symbiont-transmitting mothers. Thus, CI drives maternally transmitted bacteria to high frequencies in arthropod species worldwide. In the past two decades, CI has experienced a boom in interest due in part to its (i) deployment in successful, worldwide efforts to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, (ii) causation by bacteriophage genes, cifA and cifB, that modify animal reproductive processes, and (iii) important impacts on incipient speciation. This review serves as a gateway to experimental, conceptual, and quantitative themes of CI and outlines significant gaps in our understanding of CI’s mechanism that are ripe for investigation from a diversity of subdisciplines in the life sciences.


cytoplasmic incompatibility; Wolbachia; prophage WO; CifA and CifB; symbiosis



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