Super-infections of Wolbachia in byturid beetles and evidence for genetic transfer between A and B super-groups of Wolbachia

Authors

  • G. MALLOCH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, Scotland, DD2 5DA, UK
      G. Malloch, Fax: (national) 01382 562426 (international) + 441382562426; E-mail: gmallo@scri.sari.ac.uk
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  • B. FENTON

    1. Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, Scotland, DD2 5DA, UK
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G. Malloch, Fax: (national) 01382 562426 (international) + 441382562426; E-mail: gmallo@scri.sari.ac.uk

Abstract

Wolbachia are maternally inherited bacteria responsible for altering host reproduction. The two main groups found in insects, A and B, are based on molecular characterization using ribosomal, ftsZ, wsp (Wolbachia surface protein) or groE genes. We have used the wsp and ftsZ genes to study Wolbachia in byturid beetles. Byturus affinis contained a single copy of the ftsZ gene which grouped with A ftsZ sequences and a single copy of the wsp gene which grouped with B wsp sequences. This suggests that genetic exchange between A and B groups has occurred in the Wolbachia of this beetle. FtsZ and wsp sequences that were identical or nearly identical to those of B. affinis were found in B. tomentosus, suggesting that it also contains the same recombinant Wolbachia genotype. Most other byturids had more than one wsp sequence with at least one from the A and B groups, suggesting multiple copies of bacterial genes or multiple infections. B. ochraceus and B. unicolor both had four distinct wsp gene sequences. All the byturids had a closely related A wsp sequence and most a closely related B wsp sequence. Therefore, there appears to be an association between specific A and B wsp types.

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