No evidence for Wolbachia-induced parthenogenesis in the social Hymenoptera


Tom Wenseleers Laboratory of Entomology, Zoological Institute, K.U.Leuven, Naamsestraat 59, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium. Tel.: +32 16 323964; fax: +32 16 324575; e-mail:


In some parasitoid wasps, infection by the micro-organism Wolbachia leads to asexual reproduction. Within the Hymenoptera, the limits of distribution of parthenogenesis inducing Wolbachia have not yet been established. To address this issue, we screened all known thelytokous social hymenopteran species using a PCR assay. None was infected, and therefore we conclude that worker thelytoky evolves independently of Wolbachia in ants and bees. This supports the previously proposed hypothesis that a sex determining system based on heterozygosity may form a proximate limitation to Wolbachia-induced parthenogenesis.