Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Small steps or giant leaps for male-killers? Phylogenetic constraints to male-killer host shifts
Author(s): Tinsley, M C
Majerus, Michael E N
Contact Email:
Keywords: Arthropda
Host-virus relationships
Issue Date: Nov-2007
Date Deposited: 29-Jul-2009
Citation: Tinsley MC & Majerus MEN (2007) Small steps or giant leaps for male-killers? Phylogenetic constraints to male-killer host shifts. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 7 (1), p. 238.;
Abstract: Background: Arthropods are infected by a wide diversity of maternally transmitted microbes. Some of these manipulate host reproduction to facilitate population invasion and persistence. Such parasites transmit vertically on an ecological timescale, but rare horizontal transmission events have permitted colonisation of new species. Here we report the first systematic investigation into the influence of the phylogenetic distance between arthropod species on the potential for reproductive parasite interspecific transfer. Results: We employed a well characterised reproductive parasite, a coccinellid beetle male-killer, and artificially injected the bacterium into a series of novel species. Genetic distances between native and novel hosts were ascertained by sequencing sections of the 16S and 12S mitochondrial rDNA genes. The bacterium colonised host tissues and transmitted vertically in all cases tested. However, whilst transmission efficiency was perfect within the native genus, this was reduced following some transfers of greater phylogenetic distance. The bacterium's ability to distort offspring sex ratios in novel hosts was negatively correlated with the genetic distance of transfers. Male-killing occurred with full penetrance following within-genus transfers; but whilst sex ratio distortion generally occurred, it was incomplete in more distantly related species. Conclusion: This study indicates that the natural interspecific transmission of reproductive parasites might be constrained by their ability to tolerate the physiology or genetics of novel hosts. Our data suggest that horizontal transfers are more likely between closely related species. Successful bacterial transfer across large phylogenetic distances may require rapid adaptive evolution in the new species. This finding has applied relevance regarding selection of suitable bacteria to manipulate insect pest and vector populations by symbiont gene-drive systems.
DOI Link: 10.1186/1471-2148-7-238
Rights: Published in BMC Evolutionary Biology by BioMed Central Ltd.; © 2007 Tinsley and Majerus; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.; Publisher statement: "This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited".
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Small steps or giant leaps for male-killers.pdfFulltext - Published Version336.12 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.