Consistently high incidence of Wolbachia in global fig wasp communities
- Wolbachia are very common and widespread endosymbionts of arthropods. They can have a considerable effect on their host's fitness. It has been estimated that as many as 40% of arthropod species are infected with Wolbachia, but particular taxonomic groups and ecological niches display significantly higher or lower incidences.
- In this study, an African sample was combined with those of three previous studies from three other continents. Wolbachia incidence in 172 fig wasp species (including pollinators, non-pollinators, gallers and non gallers) associated with 81 fig trees of six subgenera was reanalysed and it was estimated that > 80% of fig wasp species were infected with Wolbachia, which is far higher than putative global infection rates in arthropods.
- It was found that, within fig wasps, incidence does not vary consistently with respect to host taxonomy, ecology or geography. In particular, incidence seems remarkably constant across samples from different geographical locations.