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Host phylogeny and ecological associations best explain Wolbachia host shifts in scale insects Running title: Wolbachia host shifts
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  • Ehsan Sanaei,
  • Greg Albery,
  • Yun Kit Yeoh,
  • Yen-Po Lin,
  • Lyn Cook,
  • Jan Engelstädter
Ehsan Sanaei
The University of Queensland

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Greg Albery
Georgetown University
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Yun Kit Yeoh
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
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Yen-Po Lin
National Chiayi University
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Lyn Cook
The University of Queensland
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Jan Engelstädter
The University of Queensland
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Wolbachia are among the most prevalent and widespread endosymbiotic bacteria on earth. Wolbachia’s success in infecting an enormous number of arthropod species is attributed to two features: the range of phenotypes they induce in their hosts, and their ability to switch between host species. Whilst much progress has been made in elucidating their induced phenotypes, our understanding of Wolbachia host shifting is still very limited: we lack answers to even fundamental questions concerning Wolbachia’s routes of transfer and the importance of factors influencing host shifts. Here, we investigate the diversity and host-shift patterns of Wolbachia in scale insects, a group of arthropods with intimate associations with other insects that make them well-suited to studying host shifts. Using Illumina multi-target amplicon sequencing of Wolbachia-infected scale insects and their direct associates we determined the identity of all Wolbachia strains. We then fitted a Generalised Additive Mixed Model (GAMM) to our data to estimate the influence of host phylogeny and the geographic distribution on Wolbachia strain sharing among scale insect species. The model predicts no significant contribution of host geography but strong effects of host phylogeny, with high rates of Wolbachia sharing among closely related species and a sudden drop-off in sharing with increasing phylogenetic distance. We also detected the same Wolbachia strain in scale insects and several intimately associated species (ants, wasps, beetles, and flies). This indicates putative host shifts and potential routes of transfers via these associates and highlights the importance of ecological connectivity in Wolbachia host-shifting.
09 Aug 2022Submitted to Molecular Ecology
12 Aug 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
16 Sep 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
21 Sep 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
19 Oct 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 Oct 20221st Revision Received
26 Oct 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
25 Nov 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
25 Nov 20222nd Revision Received
29 Nov 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
27 Jan 20233rd Revision Received
27 Jan 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
01 Feb 2023Editorial Decision: Accept