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The Interaction Phenotype in the Drosophila willistoni-Spiroplasma Symbiosis

Mercedes A. Ebbert
Evolution
Vol. 45, No. 4 (Jun., 1991), pp. 971-988
DOI: 10.2307/2409703
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409703
Page Count: 18
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The Interaction Phenotype in the Drosophila willistoni-Spiroplasma Symbiosis
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Abstract

Both the population and coevolutionary dynamics of hereditary male-lethal endosymbionts, found in a wide range of insect species, depend on host fitness and endosymbiont transmission rates. This paper reports on fitness effects and transmission rates in three lines of Drosophila willistoni infected with either male-lethal spiroplasmas or a spontaneous nonmale-lethal mutant. Overall fitness measures were reduced or unaffected by the infection; however, some infected females produced more offspring in early broods. Maternal transmission rates were high, but imperfect, and varied with a female's age, host line, and spiroplasma type. No evidence for paternal or horizontal transmission was found. If an altered temporal pattern of reproduction is not a factor in countering the loss of spiroplasma hosts through imperfect maternal transmission, persistence of this endoparasitism remains unexplained. Tolerance of the infection and ability to transmit bacteria varied with both host and spiroplasma line. Analysis of the interaction between the spontaneous nonmale-lethal mutant and its host suggests this symbiosis has undergone coevolution under laboratory culture.

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