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Wolbachia Make Fruit Flies Lay More Eggs to Make More Wolbachia

If you would like to have a particularly striking organism named after you, choose your collaborator well. The Harvard rickettsiologist S. Burt Wolbach was lucky to have such a colleague—the entomologist Marshall Hertig. In 1936, Hertig gave the name Wolbachia to the endosymbionts of mosquitoes they had jointly discovered in 1924. As is now widely known, Wolbachia are among the most common host-associated bacteria, infecting perhaps 70% of all insects, many spiders, and some worms to boot. And what they do for their hosts is mighty interesting. As an aside, it’s worth mentioning that the two discoverers were on the mark in deciding that the organism belongs to the Rickettsiales (Alphaproteobacteria). True enough, their genome sequence confirms that.

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