1 Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
DiscussionWolbachia are widespread and abundant endosymbionts, ranging from mutualists with filarial nematodes to reproductive parasites of arthropods. Across their diverse host range the bacterium is recognised by host autophagy, which regulates Wolbachia population levels. Even where they have evolved a mutualistic relationship, as with filarial nematodes, the host still ‘see’ them as pathogens – a process which the bacterium has to evade to survive and grow. I will discuss evidence that the interaction of Wolbachia with host autophagy extends beyond population control and underpins two of the key public health benefits of targeting Wolbachia. Firstly, I will show how antibiotics that are effective in delivering potent macrofilaricidal therapy rely on autophagy as part of their mode-of-action and, secondly, show how Wolbachia’s subversion of autophagy and its impact on lipid biosynthesis renders cells refractory to arboviruses, which depend on the autophagic machinery for their replication.