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Patterns and mechanisms in instances of endosymbiont‐induced parthenogenesis

Ma, W.‐J., Schwander, T.
Journal of evolutionary biology 2017 v.30 no.5 pp. 868-888
Hymenoptera, Wolbachia, arthropods, endosymbionts, hosts, latitude, parthenogenesis, sex determination, surveys
Female‐producing parthenogenesis can be induced by endosymbionts that increase their transmission by manipulating host reproduction. Our literature survey indicates that such endosymbiont‐induced parthenogenesis is known or suspected in 124 host species from seven different arthropod taxa, with Wolbachia as the most frequent endosymbiont (in 56–75% of host species). Most host species (81%, 100 out of 124) are characterized by haplo‐diploid sex determination, but a strong ascertainment bias likely underestimates the frequency of endosymbiont‐induced parthenogenesis in hosts with other sex determination systems. In at least one taxon, hymenopterans, endosymbionts are a significant driver of transitions from sexual to parthenogenetic reproduction, with one‐third of lineages being parthenogenetic as a consequence of endosymbiont infection. Endosymbiont‐induced parthenogenesis appears to facilitate the maintenance of reproductive polymorphism: at least 50% of species comprise both sexual (uninfected) and parthenogenetic (infected) strains. These strains feature distribution differences similar to the ones documented for lineages with genetically determined parthenogenesis, with endosymbiont‐induced parthenogens occurring at higher latitudes than their sexual relatives. Finally, although gamete duplication is often considered as the main mechanism for endosymbiont‐induced parthenogenesis, it underlies parthenogenesis in only half of the host species studied thus far. We point out caveats in the methods used to test for endosymbiont‐induced parthenogenesis and suggest specific approaches that allow for firm conclusions about the involvement of endosymbionts in the origin of parthenogenesis.