Wolbachia causes cytoplasmic incompatibility but not male‐killing in a grain pest beetle

Kiefer et al. (2022). Molecular Ecology 31 (24)
Names (1)
Shikimatogenerans silvanidophilus Ts
Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics Genetics
AbstractThe endosymbiotic Wolbachia is one of the most common intracellular bacteria known in arthropods and nematodes. Its ability for reproductive manipulation can cause unequal inheritance to male and female offspring, allowing the manipulator to spread, but potentially also impact the evolutionary dynamics of infected hosts. Estimated to be present in up to 66% of insect species, little is known about the phenotypic impact of Wolbachia within the order Coleoptera. Here, we describe the reproductive manipulation by the Wolbachia strain wSur harboured by the sawtoothed grain beetle Oryzaephilus surinamensis (Coleoptera, Silvanidae), through a combination of genomics approaches and bioassays. The Wolbachia strain wSur belongs to supergroup B that contains well‐described reproductive manipulators of insects and encodes a pair of cytoplasmic incompatibility factor (cif) genes, as well as multiple homologues of the WO‐mediated killing (wmk) gene. A phylogenetic comparison with wmk homologues of wMel of Drosophila melanogaster identified 18 wmk copies in wSur, including one that is closely related to the wMel male‐killing homologue. However, further analysis of this particular wmk gene revealed an eight‐nucleotide deletion leading to a stop‐codon and subsequent reading frame shift midsequence, probably rendering it nonfunctional. Concordantly, utilizing a Wolbachia‐deprived O. surinamensis population and controlled mating pairs of wSur‐infected and noninfected partners, we found no experimental evidence for male‐killing. However, a significant ~50% reduction of hatching rates in hybrid crosses of uninfected females with infected males indicates that wSur is causing cytoplasmic incompatibility. Thus, Wolbachia also represents an important determinant of host fitness in Coleoptera.
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