The Wolbachia Bacteria Invasion Remains Ignored

The bacteria Wolbachia is widely regarded as the most succesful intracelluar bacteria in the world, and it is also one of the most common.  Projections estimate that Wolbachia might live in almost a fifth of the world’s total insect population.  Wolbachia cause several frightening symptoms in their victims, especially males.  These symptoms include feminization (the alteration of a male into a female), asexual reproduction in female hosts, male sexual sterilization, and death.  However, we still understand very little about the manner in which Wolbachia causes these symptoms, or how it is so successful as a reproductive parasite.  This is highlighted by recent research presented University of California and Universite Lyon researchers at the Public Library of Science.  Read their report here.

Wolbachia mainly affects insects, but this should be of little comfort since insects greatly affect us.  In fact, it is estimated that there could be nearly 10 quintillion insects living on earth at any given moment (that’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 insects).  If almost 20% of these are infected, that’s 2 quintillion Wolbachia host insects.  The human population of earth is estimated at a pitiful 6.76 billion in comparison.  If Wolbachia ever evolved to take human hosts, the results could be disastrous.  We could become a maleless planet of asexually reproducing freaks.  The possibility lends credibilty to the potential for a scenario similar to that in the popular book series Y: The Last Man, which is currently being developed into a major motion picture. But despite our knowledge of Wolbachia, nobody talks about this. Theorists theorizing that Wolbachia is positioning itself for global takeover are drowned out by the status quo. One theorist, Joanna Mendolsen, believes Wolbachia’s success could be attributed to a unique group intelligence shared by the Wolbachia bacterium as a whole that guides it’s invasion of insect species.

“The bacteria infection of insects could just be practice for a larger scale invasion of the human population,” says Dr. Mendolsen. She adds, “We might never know the hows or whys. Understanding the motives of bacteria is a totally unexplored realm of psychology.”

We’ll have to wait and see what happens. At least the Russians have produced a documentary about Wolbachia. Unfortunately it has only received about 200 views on youtube. Watch below (narration and subtitles in Russian).