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Wolbachia Infection Reduces Sperm Competitive Ability in an Insect

Fleur E. Champion de Crespigny and Nina Wedell
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 273, No. 1593 (Jun. 22, 2006), pp. 1455-1458
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25223473
Page Count: 4
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Wolbachia Infection Reduces Sperm Competitive Ability in an Insect
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Abstract

The maternally inherited bacterium Wolbachia pipientis imposes significant fitness costs on its hosts. One such cost is decreased sperm production resulting in reduced fertility of male Drosophila simulans infected with cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) inducing Wolbachia. We tested the hypothesis that Wolbachia infection affects sperm competitive ability and found that Wolbachia infection is indeed associated with reduced success in sperm competition in non-virgin males. In the second male role, infected males sired 71% of the offspring whereas uninfected males sired 82% of offspring. This is the first empirical evidence indicating that Wolbachia infection deleteriously affects sperm competition and raises the possibility that polyandrous females can utilize differential sperm competitive ability to bias the paternity of broods and avoid the selfish manipulations of Wolbachia. This suggests a relationship between Wolbachia infection and host reproductive strategies. These findings also have important consequences for Wolbachia population dynamics because the transmission advantage of Wolbachia is likely to be undermined by sperm competition.

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