Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Endosymbionts moderate constrained sex allocation in a haplodiploid thrips species in a temperature-sensitive way.

Abstract

Maternally inherited bacterial endosymbionts that affect host fitness are common in nature. Some endosymbionts colonise host populations by reproductive manipulations (such as cytoplasmic incompatibility; CI) that increase the reproductive fitness of infected over uninfected females. Theory predicts that CI-inducing endosymbionts in haplodiploid hosts may also influence sex allocation, including in compatible crosses, however, empirical evidence for this is scarce. We examined the role of two common CI-inducing endosymbionts, Cardinium and Wolbachia, in the sex allocation of Pezothrips kellyanus, a haplodiploid thrips species with a split sex ratio. In this species, irrespective of infection status, some mated females are constrained to produce extremely male-biased broods, whereas other females produce extremely female-biased broods. We analysed brood sex ratio of females mated with males of the same infection status at two temperatures. We found that at 20°C the frequency of constrained sex allocation in coinfected pairs was reduced by 27% when compared to uninfected pairs. However, at 25°C the constrained sex allocation frequency increased and became similar between coinfected and uninfected pairs, resulting in more male-biased population sex ratios at the higher temperature. This temperature-dependent pattern occurred without changes in endosymbiont densities and compatibility. Our findings indicate that endosymbionts affect sex ratios of haplodiploid hosts beyond the commonly recognised reproductive manipulations by causing female-biased sex allocation in a temperature-dependent fashion. This may contribute to a higher transmission efficiency of CI-inducing endosymbionts and is consistent with previous models that predict that CI by itself is less efficient in driving endosymbiont invasions in haplodiploid hosts.