Among insects, Wolbachia is an exceedingly common bacterial endosymbiont with a range of consequences of infection. Despite the frequency of Wolbachia infection, very little is known about this bacteria's diversity and role within hosts, especially within ant hosts. In this study, we analyze the occurrence and diversity of Wolbachia across the spiny ants (Polyrhachis), a large and geographically diverse genus. Polyrhachis samples from throughout the host genus' phylogenetic and biogeographical range were first screened for single infections of Wolbachia using the wsp gene and Sanger sequencing. The multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme was then used on these singly infected samples to identify the Wolbachia strains. A Wolbachia phylogeny was inferred from the Polyrhachis samples analyzed in this study as well as other Formicidae MLST profiles from the MLST online database. We hypothesized that three key host factors were impacting Wolbachia diversity within the Polyrhachis genus: biogeography, phylogeny, and species level. The results suggest that the phylogeny and biogeography of Polyrhachis hosts have no impact on Wolbachia diversity; however, species level may have some limited influence. Additionally, Wolbachia strains appear to group according to being either Old World or New World strains. Among the taxa able to form complete MLST allelic profiles, all twenty are seemingly new strains.
Diversity - Basel
Webb, J. L., Graber, L. C., Ramalho, M. O., & Moreau, C. S. (2023). Investigating the Diversity of Wolbachia across the Spiny Ants (Polyrhachis). Diversity - Basel, 15(3), 1-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/d15030348