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Wolbachia are gram-negative bacteria that form intracellular inherited infections in many invertebrates. They are extremely common with 20-75% of all insects being infected. Moreover they infect numerous non-insect invertebrates including nematodes, mites and spiders. The limits of the host range of Wolbachia are not fully appreciated at this time. Much of the success of Wolbachia can be attributed to the diverse phenotypes that result from infection. These range from classical mutualism to reproductive parasitism as characterized by the ability of Wolbachia to override chromosomal sex determination, induce parthenogenesis, selectively kill males, influence sperm competition and generate cytoplasmic incompatibility in early embryos. The unique biology of Wolbachia has attracted a growing number of researchers interested in questions ranging from the evolutionary implications of infection through to the use of this agent for pest and disease control.
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