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Genetics. 2002 Mar;160(3):1075-86.

History of infection with different male-killing bacteria in the two-spot ladybird beetle Adalia bipunctata revealed through mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis.

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Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EH, United Kingdom.


The two-spot ladybird beetle Adalia bipunctata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) is host to four different intracellular maternally inherited bacteria that kill male hosts during embryogenesis: one each of the genus Rickettsia (alpha-Proteobacteria) and Spiroplasma (Mollicutes) and two distinct strains of Wolbachia (alpha-Proteobacteria). The history of infection with these male-killers was explored using host mitochondrial DNA, which is linked with the bacteria due to joint maternal inheritance. Two variable regions, 610 bp of cytochrome oxidase subunit I and 563 bp of NADH dehydrogenase subunit 5, were isolated from 52 A. bipunctata with known infection status and different geographic origin from across Eurasia. Two outgroup taxa were also considered. DNA sequence analysis revealed that the distribution of mitochondrial haplotypes is not associated with geography. Rather, it correlates with infection status, confirming linkage disequilibrium between mitochondria and bacteria. The data strongly suggest that the Rickettsia male-killer invaded the host earlier than the other taxa. Further, the male-killing Spiroplasma is indicated to have undergone a recent and extensive spread through host populations. In general, male-killing in A. bipunctata seems to represent a highly dynamic system, which should prove useful in future studies on the evolutionary dynamics of this peculiar type of symbiont-host association.

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