High prevalence of Wolbachia infection does not explain unidirectional cytoplasmic incompatibility of Altica flea beetles

Jing Wei, Kari A. Segraves, Bing Han Xiao, Wen Zhu Li, Xing Ke Yang, Huai Jun Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


1. Wolbachia are intracellular bacteria found in a wide range of arthropods that can impact reproductive isolation of their hosts. Previous studies showed unidirectional cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) and high infection rates by Wolbachia in the closely related leaf beetles Altica fragariae and Altica viridicyanea; however, whether this reproductive isolation was induced by Wolbachia remains unclear. 2. This study estimated the prevalence of Wolbachia in Altica beetles, assessed genetic diversity of Wolbachia strains infecting these beetles, and tested whether Wolbachia-induced CI explains reproductive isolation of A. fragariae and A. viridicyanea. 3. The results show that all of the 11 tested Altica species were infected by Wolbachia, and the infection rate was as high as 97.0% (n = 235). Multi-strain infections were common, being found in 10 of the 11 species tested and accounting for 23.0% of all screened specimens. In total, 35 Wolbachia strains were identified based on 208 wsp sequences obtained. Although a majority of A. fragariae and A. viridicyanea individuals from the Beijing population were infected with only one strain each, multi-strain infections did occur in both species. Antibiotic curing experiments did not change hatching success in either inter- or intraspecific crosses of A. fragariae and A. viridicyanea, indicating that these Wolbachia strains do not induce CI. These results were further corroborated by the lack of the Wolbachia cifB gene, which is responsible for causing CI. 4. These findings suggest that high prevalence of Wolbachia infection is unlikely to contribute to reproductive isolation and speciation in this system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Cytoplasmic incompatibility
  • MLST
  • Wolbachia
  • hatching success
  • speciation
  • wsp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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