Article: article from journal or magazin.
Sex ratio and Wolbachia infection in the ant Formica exsecta.
Sex allocation data in social Hymenoptera provide some of the best tests of kin selection, parent-offspring conflict and sex ratio theories. However, these studies critically depend on controlling for confounding ecological factors and on identifying all parties that potentially manipulate colony sex ratio. It has been suggested that maternally inherited parasites may influence sex allocation in social Hymenoptera. If the parasites can influence sex allocation, infected colonies are predicted to invest more resources in females than non-infected colonies, because the parasites are transmitted through females but not males. Prime candidates for such sex ratio manipulation are Wolbachia, because these cytoplasmically transmitted bacteria have been shown to affect the sex ratio of host arthropods by cytoplasmic incompatibility, parthenogenesis, male-killing and feminization. In this study, we tested whether Wolbachia infection is associated with colony sex ratio in two populations of the ant Formica exsecta that have been the subject of extensive sex ratio studies. In these populations colonies specialize in the production of one sex or the other. We found that almost all F. exsecta colonies in both populations are infected with Wolbachia. However, in neither population did we find a significant association in the predicted direction between the prevalence of Wolbachia and colony sex ratio. In particular, colonies with a higher proportion of infected workers did not produce more females. Hence, we conclude that Wolbachia does not seem to alter the sex ratio of its hosts as a means to increase transmission rate in these two populations of ants.
Animals, Ants/microbiology, Female, Male, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sex Ratio, Wolbachia/physiology
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