The Spiroplasma heritable bacterial endosymbiont of Drosophila.Fly (Austin) 2010 Jan-Mar; 4(1):80-7F
Since the discovery of the small, gram-positive bacteria, Spiroplasma, as a sex-ratio distorting agent in Drosophila over 50 years ago, substantial progress has been made in understanding the relationship of this bacteria with its insect host. Thus far, Spiroplasma have been found as heritable endosymbionts in sixteen different species of Drosophila. In some species these bacteria cause a male-killing phenotype, where the males die during embryogenesis. In other species, however, Spiroplasma does not cause male-killing, and its fitness effects are unclear. Though recent research has identified multiple factors that affect the prevalence and transmission of Spiroplasma in Drosophila populations, much work remains to fully characterize this symbiosis. Spiroplasma is the only identified heritable bacterial endosymbiont of Drosophila, other than Wolbachia, and can serve as a useful as model for elucidating the nature of insect/bacterial interactions.