Cloning and sequencing of wsp encoding gene fragments reveals a diversity of co-infecting Wolbachia strains in Acromyrmex leafcutter ants

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S. van Borm, T. Wenseleers, J. Billen, Jacobus Jan Boomsma

By sequencing part of the wsp gene of a series of clones, we detected an unusually high diversity of nine Wolbachia strains in queens of three species of leafcutter ants. Up to four strains co-occurred in a single ant. Most strains occurred in two clusters (InvA and InvB), but the social parasite Acromyrmex insinuator hosted two additional infections. The multiple Wolbachia strains may influence the expression of reproductive conflicts in leafcutter ants, but the expected turnover of infections may make the cumulative effects on host ant reproduction complex. The additional Wolbachia infections of the social parasite A. insinuator were almost certainly acquired by horizontal transmission, but may have facilitated reproductive isolation from its closely related host.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)102-109
Publication statusPublished - 2003

ID: 113808