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The transmission patterns of the endosymbiont Wolbachia within the Hawaiian Drosophilidae adaptive radiation

July 27, 2023
The evolution of endosymbionts and their hosts can lead to highly dynamic interactions with varying fitness effects for both the endosymbiont and host species. Wolbachia, a ubiquitous endosymbiont of arthropods and nematodes, can have both beneficial and detrimental effects on host fitness. We documented the occurrence and patterns of transmission of Wolbachia within the Hawaiian Drosophilidae and examined the potential contributions of Wolbachia to the rapid diversification of their hosts. Screens for Wolbachia infections across a minimum of 140 species of Hawaiian Drosophila and Scaptomyza revealed species-level infections of 20.0%, and across all 399 samples, a general infection rate of 10.3%. Among the 44 Wolbachia strains we identified using a modified Wolbachia multi-locus strain typing scheme, 30 (68.18%) belonged to supergroup B, five (11.36%) belonged to supergroup A, and nine (20.45%) had alleles with conflicting supergroup assignments. Co-phylogenetic reconciliation analysis indicated that Wolbachia strain diversity within their endemic Hawaiian Drosophilidae hosts can be explained by vertical (e.g., co-speciation) and horizontal (e.g., host switch) modes of transmission. Results from stochastic character trait mapping suggest that horizontal transmission is associated with the preferred oviposition substrate of the host, but not the host’s plant family or island of occurrence. For Hawaiian Drosophilid species of conservation concern, with 13 species listed as endangered and 1 listed as threatened, knowledge of Wolbachia strain types, infection status, and potential for superinfection could assist with conservation breeding programs designed to bolster population sizes, especially when wild populations are supplemented with laboratory-reared, translocated individuals. Future research aimed at improving the understanding of the mechanisms of Wolbachia transmission in nature, their impact on the host, and their role in host species formation may shed light on the influence of Wolbachia as an evolutionary driver, especially in Hawaiian ecosystems.
Publication Year 2023
Title The transmission patterns of the endosymbiont Wolbachia within the Hawaiian Drosophilidae adaptive radiation
DOI 10.3390/genes14081545
Authors Renée L. Corpuz, Mona Renee Bellinger, Anne Veillet, Karl N. Magnacca, Donald K. Price
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Genes and Genomics
Index ID 70247520
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center