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Mol Ecol. 2006 Feb;15(2):517-27.

Wolbachia and other endosymbiont infections in spiders.

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Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.


Maternally inherited endosymbiotic bacteria, such as Wolbachia, Rickettsia and Spiroplasma, have been shown to have wide-ranging effects on the reproduction of their hosts. We present data on the presence of each of these sorts of bacteria in spiders, a group for which there are currently few data, but where such infections could explain many observed reproductive characteristics, such as sex ratio skew. The Wolbachia and Spiroplasma variants that we find in spiders belong to the same clades previously found to infect other arthropods, but many of the rickettsias belong to two, novel, hitherto spider-specific bacterial lineages. We find evidence for coexistence of different bacterial types within species, and in some cases, within individuals. We suggest that spiders present a useful opportunity for studying the effect of these sorts of bacteria on the evolution of host traits, such as those that are under sexual selection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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