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Opposite sex–specific effects of Wolbachia and interference with the sex determination of its host Ostrinia scapulalis

Daisuke Kageyama, Walther Traut


In the adzuki bean borer, Ostrinia scapulalis, the sex ratio in most progenies is 1 : 1. Females from Wolbachia–infected matrilines, however, give rise to all–female broods when infected and to all–male broods when cured of the infection. These observations had been interpreted as Wolbachia–induced feminization of genetic males into functional females. Here, we show that the interpretation is incorrect. Females from both lines have a female karyotype with a WZ sex–chromosome constitution while males are ZZ. At the time of hatching from eggs, WZ and ZZ individuals are present at a 1 : 1 ratio in broods from uninfected, infected and cured females. In broods from Wolbachia–infected females, ZZ individuals die during larval development, whereas in those from cured females, WZ individuals die. Hence, development of ZZ individuals is impaired by Wolbachia but development of WZ females may require the presence of Wolbachia in infected matrilines. Sexual mosaics generated (i) by transfection of uninfected eggs and (ii) by tetracycline treatment of Wolbachia–infected mothers prior to oviposition were ZZ in all tissues, including typically female organs. We conclude that: (i) Wolbachia acts by manipulating the sex determination of its host; and (ii) although sexual mosaics can survive, development of a normal female is incompatible with a ZZ genotype.

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