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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences




Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) have medical significance as the obligate vectors of African trypanosomes. In addition, tsetse harbor a simple gut microbiota. A predominant gut microbiota member, the Gammaproteobacterium Wigglesworthia spp., has coevolved with tsetse for a significant portion of Glossina radiation proving critical to tsetse fitness. Although multiple roles have been described for Wigglesworthia within colony flies, little research has been dedicated towards functional characterization within wild tsetse. Here, dual RNA-Seq was performed to characterize the tsetse-Wigglesworthia symbiosis within flies captured in Nguruman, Kenya. A significant correlation in Gene Ontology (GO) distribution between tsetse and Wigglesworthia was observed, with homogeneous enrichment in metabolic and transport categories, likely supporting a hallmark of the symbiosis-bidirectional metabolic exchange. Within field flies, highly transcribed Wigglesworthia loci included those involved in B vitamin synthesis and in substrate translocation, including amino acid transporters and multidrug efflux pumps, providing a molecular means for interaction. The universal expression of several Wigglesworthiaand G. pallidipes orthologs, putatively involved in nutrient provisioning and resource allocation, was confirmed in sister tsetse species. These transcriptional profiles varied through host age and mating status likely addressing varying symbiont demands and also confirming their global importance within Glossina. This study, not only supports symbiont nutrient provisioning roles, but also serves as a foundation for insight into novel roles and molecular mechanisms associated with vector–microbiota interactions. The role of symbiont B vitamin provisioning towards impacting host epigenetics is discussed. Knowledge of vector–microbiota interactions may lead to the discovery of novel targets in pest control.

Source Citation

Medina Munoz, M., Pollio, A. R., White, H. L., & Rio, R. V. M. (2017). Into the Wild: Parallel Transcriptomics of the Tsetse-Wigglesworthia Mutualism within Kenyan Populations. Genome Biology and Evolution, 9(9), 2276–2291.


ß The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact



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