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Wolbachia form a group of intracellular bacteria that alter reproduction in their arthropod hosts. Two major phylogenetic subdivisions (A and B) of Wolbachia occur. Using a polymerase chain reaction assay we surveyed for the A and B group Wolbachia in 82 insect species from two temperate host-parasitoid communities (food webs) and a general collection of Lepidoptera caught at a light trap. One host-parasitoid community was based around leaf-mining Lepidoptera, and the other around Aphids. We found that: (i) 22.0% of insects sampled were infected with Wolbachia; and (ii) the prevalence and type (A or B) of Wolbachia infection differed significantly between communities and taxonomic groups. We obtained DNA sequences from the ftsZ gene for the group B Wolbachia found in six leaf-mining species and one of their parasitoids, as well as four of the Lepidoptera caught by a light trap. Taken together, the results of our survey and phylogenetic analyses of the sequence data suggest that host-parasitoid transfer of Wolbanchia is not the major route through which the species we have examined become infected. In addition, the Wolbachia strains observed in five leaf-mining species from the same genus were not closely related, indicating that transfer between species has not occurred due to a shared feeding niche or cospeciation.


Journal article


Mol Ecol

Publication Date





1457 - 1465


Animals, Aphids, Bacterial Proteins, Cytoskeletal Proteins, DNA, Bacterial, Ecosystem, Genes, Bacterial, Lepidoptera, Phylogeny, Rickettsiaceae, Species Specificity