Endosymbionts moderate constrained sex allocation in a haplodiploid thrips species in a temperature-sensitive way

A. Katlav, D. T. Nguyen, J. L. Morrow, R. N. Spooner-Hart and M. Riegler,  Heredity,  9. 2022.

Maternally inherited bacterial endosymbionts that affect host fitness are common in nature. Some endosymbionts colonise host populations by reproductive manipulations (such as cytoplasmic incompatibility; CI) that increase the reproductive fitness of infected over uninfected females. Theory predicts that CI-inducing endosymbionts in haplodiploid hosts may also influence sex allocation, including in compatible crosses, however, empirical evidence for this is scarce. We examined the role of two common CI-inducing endosymbionts, Cardinium and Wolbachia, in the sex allocation of Pezothrips kellyanus, a haplodiploid thrips species with a split sex ratio. In this species, irrespective of infection status, some mated females are constrained to produce extremely male-biased broods, whereas other females produce extremely female-biased broods. We analysed brood sex ratio of females mated with males of the same infection status at two temperatures. We found that at 20 degrees C the frequency of constrained sex allocation in coinfected pairs was reduced by 27% when compared to uninfected pairs. However, at 25 degrees C the constrained sex allocation frequency increased and became similar between coinfected and uninfected pairs, resulting in more male-biased population sex ratios at the higher temperature. This temperature-dependent pattern occurred without changes in endosymbiont densities and compatibility. Our findings indicate that endosymbionts affect sex ratios of haplodiploid hosts beyond the commonly recognised reproductive manipulations by causing female-biased sex allocation in a temperature-dependent fashion. This may contribute to a higher transmission efficiency of CI-inducing endosymbionts and is consistent with previous models that predict that CI by itself is less efficient in driving endosymbiont invasions in haplodiploid hosts.

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