Wolbachia is a common intracellular bacterial endosymbiont of insects, causing a variety of effects including reproductive manipulations such as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). In this study, we characterized Wolbachia in the whitefly Bemisia tabaci and in the whitefly parasitoid Eretmocerus sp. nr. emiratus. We also tested for horizontal transmission of Wolbachia between and within trophic levels, and we determined the phenotype of Wolbachia in E. sp. nr. emiratus. Using multilocus sequence typing and phylogenetic analyses, we found that B. tabaci and E. sp. nr. emiratus each harbor a different and unique strain of Wolbachia. Both strains belong to the phylogenetic supergroup B. No evidence for horizontal transmission of Wolbachia between and within trophic levels was found in our study system. Finally, crossing results were consistent with a CI phenotype; when Wolbachia-infected E. sp. nr. emiratus males mate with uninfected females, wasp progeny survival dropped significantly, and the number of females was halved. This is the first description of CI caused by Wolbachia in the economically important genus Eretmocerus. Our study underscores the expectation that horizontal transmission events occur rarely in the dynamics of secondary symbionts such as Wolbachia, and highlights the importance of understanding the effects of symbionts on the biology of natural enemies.
- Cytoplasmic incompatibility
- Multilocus sequence typing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science