Wolbachia have a thing against males. A member of one of the most diverse groups of bacteria, called Proteobacteria, this parasitic "endosymbiont" lives inside the reproductive cells of a wide variety of the nearly one million species of arthropods, including insects, spiders, and crustaceans.
Wolbachia’s effects range from beneficial to pathological, but if the host is male, the infection often turns out badly. The reason is the Wolbachia are transmitted through females, and to increase the chances of being passed on from one generation to the next, the bacterium has developed a number of strategies to rid the population of males, or even to convert them to females. As far as Wolbachia are concerned, males are irrelevant.
The biochemical mechanisms that trigger different strategies in different hosts are unclear, however, in part because it has so far been impossible to grow sufficient quantities of these bacteria outside their host. But now that Scott O’Neill, Jonathan Eisen, and colleagues have sequenced the complete genome of one strain of Wolbachia pipientis, scientists are already gaining new insight into the biology and evolution of Wolbachia-host interactions.
Jonathan Eisen | EurekAlert!
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Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
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