Eur. J. Entomol. 103 (1): 1-7, 2006 | 10.14411/eje.2006.001

The impact of male-killing bacteria on the evolution of aphidophagous coccinellids

Michael E.N. MAJERUS
Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EH, UK; e-mail: m.majerus@gen.cam.ac.uk

Many aphidophagous coccinellids harbour male-killing bacteria. These maternally inherited bacteria kill males early in embryogenesis, female offspring of infected mothers gaining a large resource advantage from the consumption of their dead brothers. In this paper, the diversity of male-killing bacteria and their coccinellid hosts will be briefly reviewed. Thereafter, the impact that invasion by male-killers has on coccinellid hosts will be addressed in two ways. First, the selective effects due to the loss of male progeny, and the intra-genomic conflict resulting from the cytoplasmic inheritance of the bacteria will be considered. Reductions in mitochondrial diversity, effects on clutch sizes and the evolution of male-killer suppresser systems will be discussed. Second, the impact of female biased population sex ratios on the evolution of reproductive strategies and the primary sex ratio will be investigated. Preliminary results suggesting changes in male investment per copulation, reductions in female testing behaviour of males, and male biases in the progenic sex ratios of some uninfected male lines will be presented. Avenues for future work will be outlined.

Keywords: Coccinellids, biased sex ratios, male-killing, cytoplasmic bacteria, reproductive manipulation

Received: May 31, 2005; Accepted: August 1, 2005; Published: January 30, 2006


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