BACKGROUND: One of the most widespread prokaryotic symbionts of invertebrates is the intracellular bacteria of Wolbachia genus which can be found in about 50% of insect species. Wolbachia causes both parasitic and mutualistic effects on its host that include manipulating the host reproductive systems in order to increase their transmission through the female germline, and increasing the host fitness. One of the mechanisms, promoting adaptation in biological organisms, is a non-specific neuroendocrine stress reaction. In insects, this reaction includes catecholamines, dopamine, serotonin and octopamine, which act as neurotransmitters, neuromodulators and neurohormones. The level of dopamine metabolism correlates with heat stress resistance in Drosophila adults.
RESULTS: To examine Wolbachia effect on Drosophila survival under heat stress and dopamine metabolism we used five strains carrying the nuclear background of interbred Bi90 strain and cytoplasmic backgrounds with different genotype variants of Wolbachia (produced by 20 backcrosses of Bi90 males with appropriate source of Wolbachia). Non-infected Bi90 strain (treated with tetracycline for 3 generations) was used as a control group. We demonstrated that two of five investigated Wolbachia variants promote changes in Drosophila heat stress resistance and activity of enzymes that produce and degrade dopamine, alkaline phosphatase and dopamine-dependent arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase. What is especially interesting, wMelCS genotype of Wolbachia increases stress resistance and the intensity of dopamine metabolism, whereas wMelPop strain decreases them. wMel, wMel2 and wMel4 genotypes of Wolbachia do not show any effect on the survival under heat stress or dopamine metabolism. L-DOPA treatment, known to increase the dopamine content in Drosophila, levels the difference in survival under heat stress between all studied groups.
CONCLUSIONS: The genotype of symbiont determines the effect that the symbiont has on the stress resistance of the host insect.