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Ecol Evol. 2014 Jul;4(13):2714-37. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1126. Epub 2014 Jun 11.

Diversity and evolution of the Wolbachia endosymbionts of Bemisia (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) whiteflies.

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Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Agricultural Entomology, Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University Hangzhou, 310058, China.


Wolbachia is the most prevalent symbiont described in arthropods to date. Wolbachia can manipulate host reproduction, provide nutrition to insect hosts and protect insect hosts from pathogenic viruses. So far, 13 supergroups of Wolbachia have been identified. The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a complex containing more than 28 morphologically indistinguishable cryptic species. Some cryptic species of this complex are invasive. In this study, we report a comprehensive survey of Wolbachia in B. tabaci and its relative B. afer from 1658 insects representing 54 populations across 13 provinces of China and one state of Australia. Based on the results of PCR or sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, the overall rates of Wolbachia infection were 79.6% and 0.96% in the indigenous and invasive Bemisia whiteflies, respectively. We detected a new Wolbachia supergroup by sequencing five molecular marker genes including 16S rRNA, groEL, gltA, hcpA, and fbpA genes. Data showed that many protein-coding genes have limitations in detecting and classifying newly identified Wolbachia supergroups and thus raise a challenge to the known Wolbachia MLST standard analysis system. Besides, the other Wolbachia strains detected from whiteflies were clustered into supergroup B. Phylogenetic trees of whitefly mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I and Wolbachia multiple sequencing typing genes were not congruent. In addition, Wolbachia was also detected outside the special bacteriocytes in two cryptic species by fluorescence in situ hybridization, indicating the horizontal transmission of Wolbachia. Our results indicate that members of Wolbachia are far from well explored.


Bemisia tabaci; FISH; Wolbachia; horizontal transmission; multilocus sequence typing; vertical transmission; whiteflies

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