Phylogeny of the arthropod endosymbiont Wolbachia based on the wsp gene


Marnix M.M. Van Meer Wageningen Agricultural University, Laboratory of Entomology, Binnenhaven 7, 6709 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands. e-mail:


Bacteria of the genus Wolbachia (Rickettsiae) are widespread in arthropods and can induce cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), thelytoky (T) or feminization (F) in their host. Recent research on the wsp gene of mainly CI inducing Wolbachia has shown that this gene evolves at a much faster rate than previously sequenced genes such as 16S or ftsZ. As a result this gene appears to be very useful in subdividing the Wolbachia and twelve groups have been distinguished to date. Here we extend the Wolbachia wsp data set with fifteen T-Wolbachia, one F-Wolbachia and three other CI-Wolbachia strains. The results showed: (i) the addition of seven groups; (ii) no relation between host phenotype and Wolbachia phylogenetic position; and (iii) possible horizontal Wolbachia transfer between the moth Ephestia kuehniella and its parasitoid Trichogramma spp.