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Heredity (Edinb). 2011 Jan;106(1):58-67. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2010.48. Epub 2010 May 5.

The genetics and evolution of obligate reproductive parasitism in Trichogramma pretiosum infected with parthenogenesis-inducing Wolbachia.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


Parthenogenesis-inducing (PI) Wolbachia belong to a class of intracellular symbionts that distort the offspring sex ratio of their hosts toward a female bias. In many PI Wolbachia-infected species sex ratio distortion has reached its ultimate expression-fixation of infection and all-female populations. This is only possible with thelytokous PI symbionts as they provide an alternative form of reproduction and remove the requirement for males and sexual reproduction. Many populations fixed for PI Wolbachia infection have lost the ability to reproduce sexually, even when cured of the infection. We examine one such population in the species Trichogramma pretiosum. Through a series of backcrossing experiments with an uninfected Trichogramma pretiosum population we were able to show that the genetic basis for the loss of female sexual function could be explained by a dominant nuclear effect. Male sexual function had not been completely lost, though some deterioration of male sexual function was also evident when males from the infected population (created through antibiotic curing of infected females) were mated to uninfected females. We discuss the dynamics of sex ratio selection in PI Wolbachia-infected populations and the evolution of non-fertilizing mutations.

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