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Social parasitism in fire ants (Solenopsis spp.): a potential mechanism for interspecies transfer of Wolbachia


D. Shoemaker, Fax: (608) 262–3322; E-mail:


One possible mechanism for interspecific transfer of Wolbachia is through the intimate contact between parasites and their hosts. We surveyed 10 species of fly parasitoids (Pseudacteon spp.) and one inquiline social parasite, Solenopsis daguerrei, for the presence and sequence identity (wsp gene) of Wolbachia. Two Wolbachia variants infecting S. daguerrei were identical to known variants infecting the two common ant host species, Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri, suggesting possible transfers of Wolbachia between this parasite and their hosts have occurred. Our data also revealed an unexpectedly high diversity of Wolbachia variants within S. daguerrei: up to eight variants were found within each individual, which, to our knowledge, is the highest reported number of Wolbachia variants infecting a single individual of any host species.