Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Barbara

Distinct epigenomic and transcriptomic modifications associated with Wolbachia-mediated asexuality.

  • Author(s): Wu, Xin
  • Lindsey, Amelia RI
  • Chatterjee, Paramita
  • Werren, John H
  • Stouthamer, Richard
  • Yi, Soojin V
  • et al.
Abstract

Wolbachia are maternally transmitted intracellular bacteria that induce a range of pathogenic and fitness-altering effects on insect and nematode hosts. In parasitoid wasps of the genus Trichogramma, Wolbachia infection induces asexual production of females, thus increasing transmission of Wolbachia. It has been hypothesized that Wolbachia infection accompanies a modification of the host epigenome. However, to date, data on genome-wide epigenomic changes associated with Wolbachia are limited, and are often confounded by background genetic differences. Here, we took sexually reproducing Trichogramma free of Wolbachia and introgressed their genome into a Wolbachia-infected cytoplasm, converting them to Wolbachia-mediated asexuality. Wolbachia was then cured from replicates of these introgressed lines, allowing us to examine the genome-wide effects of wasps newly converted to asexual reproduction while controlling for genetic background. We thus identified gene expression and DNA methylation changes associated with Wolbachia-infection. We found no overlaps between differentially expressed genes and differentially methylated genes, indicating that Wolbachia-infection associated DNA methylation change does not directly modulate levels of gene expression. Furthermore, genes affected by these mechanisms exhibit distinct evolutionary histories. Genes differentially methylated due to the infection tended to be evolutionarily conserved. In contrast, differentially expressed genes were significantly more likely to be unique to the Trichogramma lineage, suggesting host-specific transcriptomic responses to infection. Nevertheless, we identified several novel aspects of Wolbachia-associated DNA methylation changes. Differentially methylated genes included those involved in oocyte development and chromosome segregation. Interestingly, Wolbachia-infection was associated with higher levels of DNA methylation. Additionally, Wolbachia infection reduced overall variability in gene expression, even after accounting for the effect of DNA methylation. We also identified specific cases where alternative exon usage was associated with DNA methylation changes due to Wolbachia infection. These results begin to reveal distinct genes and molecular pathways subject to Wolbachia induced epigenetic modification and/or host responses to Wolbachia-infection.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View