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Keywords:

  • endosymbiotic bacteria;
  • gallwasp;
  • thelytoky;
  • phylogeny;
  • Wolbachia

Abstract

Wolbachia are endosymbiotic bacteria responsible for thelytoky in several parasitoid hymenopteran genera. After finding these micro-organisms in some populations of Diplolepis spinosissimae (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) where they are responsible for thelytoky through gamete duplication, we searched for Wolbachia spp. using specific PCR primers in nineteen other species of the Rhoditini tribe (rose gallwasps) and eight species of the ‘Aylacini’ tribe (gallwasps associated with herbaceous plants). Wolbachia were found in twelve Rhoditini species and four ‘Aylacini’ species. The most infected species have very few males (spanandry) and the thelytoky of infected species/arrhenotoky of uninfected species is confirmed by previous research based on the sex of the offspring of virgin females. Phylogenetic analyses based on the partial Wolbachia ftsZ gene sequences indicate that some strains associated with closely related gallwasps are phylogenetically distant, suggesting that cynipids have been affected by several infection events. In contrast, the five infected European species of Diplolepis harbour the same strain of Wolbachia.