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Mol Ecol. 2013 Aug;22(16):4241-4255. doi: 10.1111/mec.12389.

Evidence for selective sweeps by Wolbachia infections: phylogeny of Altica leaf beetles and their reproductive parasites.

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Zoological Institute, University of Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, 20146, Hamburg, Germany.


Infections with maternally inherited Wolbachia bacteria may have dramatic influences on reproductive traits and speciation patterns of their hosts. We here show that in the beetle genus Altica, infection has influenced phylogenetic patterns of the host's mtDNA and different strains led to repeated selective sweeps. By comparing a COI/II-based phylogeny of the hosts with a phylogeny of the bacteria based on ftsZ, we show that cospeciation is rare and restricted to few recently diverged species. While in general each species apparently harbours a single Wolbachia strain, Altica lythri presents a strikingly different pattern: in the polyphyletic species, three highly divergent mtDNA haplotypes (2.1-4.6% p-distance) are coupled with three different Wolbachia strains (wLytA1, wLytA2 and wLytB). These haplotypes and Wolbachia strains are widely distributed and mostly found in sympatry. A phylogeny based on microsatellite data supports the monophyly of A. lythri. The discrepancy between mtDNA and nuclear phylogeny may best be explained by interspecific hybridization that led to introgression of mtDNA coupled with a different Wolbachia strain. Selective sweeps apparently drove the introgressed haplotypes to widespread distribution. As for effects of Wolbachia on reproduction, infection with wLytA1 appears to be correlated with a substantial sex ratio distortion, which was most prominent in A. lythri.


bacteria; hybridization; molecular evolution; mtDNA introgression; speciation

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