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Wolbachia and genetic variability in the birdnest blowfly Protocalliphora sialia


Emmanuelle Baudry. *Present address: Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Laboratoire d’Ecology, 7 quai Saint Bernard, 75252 Paris Cedex 02, France. Tel.: +33 1 44 27 59 70; Fax: +33 1 44 27 35 16; E-mail:


Wolbachia are widespread cytoplasmically inherited bacteria that induce various reproductive alterations in host arthropods, including cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), an incompatibility between sperm and egg that typically results in embryonic death. CI has been invoked as a possible mechanism for reproductive isolation and speciation in arthropods, by restricting gene flow and promoting maintenance (and evolution) of genetic divergence between populations. Here we investigate patterns of Wolbachia infection and nuclear and mitochondrial differentiation in geographical populations of the birdnest blowfly Protocalliphora sialia. Blowflies in western North America are infected with two A-group Wolbachia, with some individuals singly and others doubly infected. Individuals in eastern North America mostly show single infections with a B-group Wolbachia. Populations in the Midwest are polymorphic for infections and show A- or B-group infection. There is a low level of mitochondrial divergence and perfect concordance of mitochondrial haplotype with infection type, suggesting that two Wolbachia-associated selective sweeps of the mitochondrion have occurred in this species. Amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis of nuclear genetic variation shows genetic differentiation between the eastern–Midwestern and western populations. Both Midwestern and eastern flies infected with A-Wolbachia show eastern nuclear genetic profiles. Current results therefore suggest that Wolbachia has not acted as a major barrier to gene flow between western and eastern–Midwestern populations, although some genetic differentiation between A-Wolbachia infected and B-Wolbachia infected individuals in eastern–Midwestern populations cannot be ruled out.