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Are sex ratio distorting endosymbionts responsible for mating system variation among dance flies (Diptera: Empidinae)?

Murray RL, Herridge EJ, Ness RW & Bussiere L (2017) Are sex ratio distorting endosymbionts responsible for mating system variation among dance flies (Diptera: Empidinae)?, PLoS ONE, 12 (6), Art. No.: e0178364.

Maternally inherited bacterial endosymbionts are common in many arthropod species. Some endosymbionts cause female-biased sex ratio distortion in their hosts that can result in profound changes to a host's mating behaviour and reproductive biology. Dance flies (Diptera: Empidinae) are well known for their unusual reproductive biology, including species with female-specific ornamentation and female-biased lek-like swarming behaviour. The cause of the repeated evolution of female ornaments in these flies remains unknown, but is probably associated with female-biased sex ratios in individual species. In this study we assessed whether dance flies harbour sex ratio distorting endosymbionts that might have driven these mating system evolutionary changes. We measured the incidence and prevalence of infection by three endosymbionts that are known to cause female-biased sex ratios in other insect hosts (Wolbachia, Rickettsia and Spiroplasma) across 20 species of dance flies. We found evidence of widespread infection by all three symbionts and variation in sex-specific prevalence across the taxa sampled. However, there was no relationship between infection prevalence and adult sex ratio measures and no evidence that female ornaments are associated with high prevalences of sex-biased symbiont infections. We conclude that the current distribution of endosymbiont infections is unlikely to explain the diversity in mating systems among dance fly species. ©2017 Murray et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

AuthorsMurray Rosalind L, Herridge Elizabeth J, Ness Rob W, Bussiere Luc
Publication date13/06/2017
Publication date online13/06/2017
Date accepted by journal11/05/2017
PublisherPublic Library of Science
ISSN 1932-6203

Plos one: Volume 12, Issue 6 (2017)

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