Research Topic

Unravelling the mysteries of Wolbachia – an evolutionary perspective

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About this Research Topic

‘Wolbachia’ are a remarkable group of bacteria that have attracted growing scientific interest over the last two decades. It has come to the forefront, as one of the most abundant, ubiquitous and diverse endosymbiotic bacterium infecting the diverse arthropod phyla. Wolbachia have been either isolated or ...

‘Wolbachia’ are a remarkable group of bacteria that have attracted growing scientific interest over the last two decades. It has come to the forefront, as one of the most abundant, ubiquitous and diverse endosymbiotic bacterium infecting the diverse arthropod phyla. Wolbachia have been either isolated or detected in the tissues of many insect orders, including Diptera (flies and their allies), Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants, and hornets), Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, and katydids) and Hemiptera (water striders, assassin bugs, bed bugs, stink bugs, cicadas, aphids, scale insects, leafhoppers, whiteflies, and others). Wolbachia inhabit most filarial nematodes including those that cause river blindness and elephantiasis in humans. It is estimated that Wolbachia can be found in between 20% - 75% of all insect species suggesting they may be the most prevalent symbionts in the world.

There are several mind boggling aspects of Wolbachia biology in insect hosts that include (a) What gives Wolbachia such an evolutionary success? (b) Can Wolbachia invade into novel hosts (c) Will Wolbachia ever achieve an evolutionary equilibrium (d) Does Wolbachia follow a pattern in selection of their hosts (e) Can two population (Wolbachia infected and uninfected) co-exist over evolutionary time scales (f) What is the role and significance of multiple infections in insect hosts (g) Can evolutionary selection pressures act against Wolbachia (h) Does the rate at which Wolbachia is inducing speciation favourable (i) What are the modulating factors for Wolbachia (j) Can Wolbachia be used for human welfare in controlling disease vectors and pests (k) What are the genomic and proteomic adaptations of Wolbachia for it to induce desired phenotypes in insect hosts and so on.

The proposed topic “Unraveling the mysterious of Wolbachia – An evolutionary perspective” aims to address these finer aspects of the endosymbiont and shed light on the evolutionary success of Wolbachia. The topic will ponder over various organismal and molecular adaptations of Wolbachia in their hosts. The ‘factors’ (abiotic, biotic and bio-molecular factors) that influence the establishment of Wolbachia and cause varied phenotypes in insect hosts will be addressed. The topic will help in establishing an insight dynamics and diversity of microbial symbiont. The goal of the proposed topic is to dwell on the aspects that favour the perpetuation of Wolbachia, the mechanisms involved in its adaptation during novel infection in insect hosts, the role of genes and proteins in inducing reproductive anomalies, the effect of infection on speciation.

The topic presents an ideal platform to discuss various facets of Wolbachia research. We encourage submissions of original research, reviews, including unsolicited reviews, and mini-reviews on following and related topics:
• Wolbachia-host interactions.
• Trans-infection studies of Wolbachia.
• Characterizations of Wolbachia proteins and genes.
• Evolutionary dynamics of Wolbachia.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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