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Genetica. 2007 May;130(1):53-60. Epub 2006 Aug 22.

F supergroup Wolbachia in bush crickets: what do patterns of sequence variation reveal about this supergroup and horizontal transfer between nematodes and arthropods?

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Department of Biology, The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019-0498, USA.


Wolbachia pipientis, an intracellular, alpha-proteobacterium, is commonly found in arthropods and filarial nematodes. Most infected insects are known to harbor strains of Wolbachia from supergroups A or B, whereas supergroups C and D occur only in filarial nematodes. Here, we present molecular evidence from two genes (ftsZ and 16S rDNA) that 2 Orthopterans (the bush cricket species Orocharis saltator and Hapithus agitator; Gryllidae: Eneopterinae) are infected with Wolbachia from the F supergroup. Additionally, a series of PCR tests revealed that these bush cricket specimens did not harbor nematodes, thus indicating that our positive results were not a by-product of nematodes being present in these cricket samples. Patterns of molecular variation suggest that (1) strains of F supergroup Wolbachia exhibit less genetic variation than the nematode-specific C and D supergroups but more than the A and B supergroups found in arthropods and (2) that there is no evidence of recombination within F supergroup strains. The above data support previous findings that F supergroup Wolbachia is not only harbored in both nematodes and arthropods, but that horizontal transfer has likely occurred recently between these diverse taxonomic groups (although the exact details of such horizontal transmissions remain unclear). Moreover, the limited genetic variation and lack of recombination in the F supergroup suggest that this clade of Wolbachia has radiated relatively rapidly with either (1) little time for recombination to occur or (2) selection against recombination as occurs in the mutualistic C and D strains of Wolbachia - both of which remain to be explored further.

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