Tropical tephritid fruit fly community with high incidence of shared Wolbachia strains as platform for horizontal transmission of endosymbionts

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SummaryWolbachiaare endosymbiotic bacteria that infect 40–65% of arthropod species. They are primarily maternally inherited with occasional horizontal transmission for which limited direct ecological evidence exists. We detectedWolbachiain 8 out of 24 Australian tephritid species. Here, we have used multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to further characterize theseWolbachiastrains, plus a novel quantitative polymerase chain reaction method for allele assignment in multiple infections. Based on five MLST loci and theWolbachiasurface protein gene (wsp), fiveBactroceraand oneDacusspecies harboured two identical strains as double infections; furthermore,Bactrocera neohumeralisharboured both of these as single or double infections, and sibling speciesB. tryoniharboured one. TwoBactroceraspecies containedWolbachiapseudogenes, potentially within the fruit fly genomes. A fruit fly parasitoid,Fopius arisanusshared identical alleles with twoWolbachiastrains detected in oneB. frauenfeldiindividual. We report an unprecedented high incidence of four sharedWolbachiastrains in eight host species from two trophic levels. This suggests frequent exposure toWolbachiain this tropical tephritid community that shares host plant and parasitoid species, and also includes species that hybridize. Such insect communities may act as horizontal transmission platforms that contribute to the ubiquity of the otherwise maternally inheritedWolbachia.

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