An ancient mitochondrial polymorphism in Adalia bipunctata linked to a sex-ratio-distorting bacterium



Jiggins FM & Tinsley MC (2005) An ancient mitochondrial polymorphism in Adalia bipunctata linked to a sex-ratio-distorting bacterium. Genetics, 171 (3), pp. 1115-1124.

Sex-ratio-distorting microbes are common parasites of arthropods. Although the reasons they have invaded and spread though populations are well understood, their subsequent dynamics within those populations are virtually unknown. We have found that different strains of a male-killing Rickettsia bacterium infecting the beetle Adalia bipunctata are associated with distinct mitochondrial haplotypes, which is expected as both the mitochondria and the bacteria are maternally transmitted. These mitochondrial haplotypes shared a common ancestor >2 million years ago, and their overall diversity is significantly greater than expected under neutrality from comparisons with a nuclear gene. Furthermore, a variety of statistical tests show strong deviations from neutrality in mitochondrial but not in nuclear genes. We therefore conclude that natural selection is probably maintaining a polymorphism of different Rickettsia strains in this species. Despite the age of the different mitochondrial haplotypes, there is very little genetic diversity within them. Furthermore, there is considerable variation in mitochondrial haplotype and bacterial strain frequency between populations, despite it being thought that this species has fairly low levels of population structure. We conclude that the fitness of these male killers may be negatively frequency dependent or different strains may be favored in different populations. These hypotheses await experimental confirmation.

Genetics: Volume 171, Issue 3

Publication date30/11/2005
PublisherGenetics Society of America

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Professor Matthew Tinsley

Professor Matthew Tinsley

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences