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Curr Biol. 2006 Dec 19;16(24):2453-8.

Competing selfish genetic elements in the butterfly Hypolimnas bolina.

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Department of Biology, University College London, 4 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HE, United Kingdom.


Maternally inherited selfish genetic elements are common in animals . Whereas host genetics and ecology are recognized as factors that may limit the incidence of these parasites , theory suggests one further factor-interference with other selfish elements-that could affect their prevalence . In this paper, we show that spatial heterogeneity in the occurrence of the male-killing Wolbachia wBol1 in the tropical butterfly Hypolimnas bolina is caused by a second infection that can exclude the male-killer. We first provide evidence of a second Wolbachia strain, wBol2, present in most populations that do not carry the male-killer but rare or absent when the male-killer is present. Crossing data indicate that wBol2 in males induces cytoplasmic incompatibility to both uninfected and wBol1-infected females. The wBol2 infection can therefore not only spread through uninfected populations but also resist invasion by wBol1. Thus, we provide empirical support for the hypothesis that the incidence of particular selfish genetic elements can limit the presence of competing types.

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