Wolbachia is one of the most common endosymbionts found infecting arthropods. Theory predicts symbionts like Wolbachia will be more common in species radiations, as host shift events occur with greatest frequency between closely related species. Further, the presence of Wolbachia itself may engender reproductive isolation, and promote speciation of their hosts. Here we screened 178 individuals belonging to 30 species of the damselfly genera Nesobasis and Melanesobasis — species radiations endemic to the Fiji archipelago in the South Pacific — for Wolbachia, using multilocus sequence typing to characterize bacterial strains. Incidence of Wolbachia was 71% in Nesobasis and 40% in Melanesobasis, and prevalence was also high, with an average of 88% in the Nesobasis species screened. We identified a total of 25 Wolbachia strains, belonging to supergroups A, B and F, with some epidemic strains present in multiple species. The occurrence of Wolbachia in both males and females, and the similar global prevalence found in both sexes rules out any strong effect of Wolbachia on the primary sex-ratio, but are compatible with the phenotype of cytoplasmic incompatibility. Nesobasis has higher species richness than most endemic island damselfly genera, and we discuss the potential for endosymbiont-mediated speciation within this group.

Scientific Reports
Department of Biology

Lorenzo-Carballa, M.O. (M. O.), Torres-Cambas, Y. (Y.), Heaton, K. (K.), Hurst, G.D.D. (G. D.D.), Charlat, S. (S.), Sherratt, T, … Beatty, C.D. (C. D.). (2019). Widespread Wolbachia infection in an insular radiation of damselflies (Odonata, Coenagrionidae). Scientific Reports, 9(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-019-47954-3