Genetic structure of sibling butterfly species affected by Wolbachia infection sweep: evolutionary and biogeographical implications


Takema Fukatsu, Fax: +81-29-861-6080; E-mail:


It was recently recognized that in Japan, the common yellow butterfly, Eurema hecabe, consists of two sibling species, which have been unnamed yet and tentatively called yellow (Y) type and brown (B) type. We investigated the diversity of nuclear and mitochondrial genes in Japanese populations of Y type and B type of E. hecabe. The phylogeny based on nuclear genes agreed with the distinction between Y type and B type, which had been also supported by a wide array of biological data. However, the phylogeny based on mitochondrial genes did not reflect the distinction. PCR survey of Wolbachia revealed that B-type populations were all infected while Y-type populations contained both infected and uninfected individuals. A single genotype of Wolbachia, which was inferred to be a CI-inducing strain from their wsp gene sequence, was prevalent in these populations. Notably, the mitochondrial phylogeny was in perfect agreement with the pattern of Wolbachia infection, suggesting that the Wolbachia infection had affected the mitochondrial genetic structure of the host insects. Probably, the Wolbachia strain and the associated mitochondrial genomes have been occasionally introduced from B-type populations to Y-type populations through migration and subsequent interspecific hybridization, and CI-driven population sweep has been spreading the Wolbachia strain and the particular mitochondrial haplotypes, which originated from B-type populations, into Y-type populations. On the basis of these results together with the geological and biogeographical knowledge of the Japanese Archipelago, we proposed an evolutionary hypothesis on the invasion and spread of Wolbachia infection in B-type and Y-type of E. hecabe.