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Cytoplasmic incompatibility between Old and New World populations of a tramp ant


Ün, Çigdem et al. (2021), Cytoplasmic incompatibility between Old and New World populations of a tramp ant, Dryad, Dataset,


Reproductive manipulation by endosymbiotic Wolbachia can cause unequal inheritance, allowing the manipulator to spread and potentially impacting evolutionary dynamics in infected hosts. Tramp and invasive species are excellent models to study the dynamics of host-Wolbachia associations because introduced populations often diverge in their microbiomes after colonizing new habitats, resulting in infection polymorphisms between native and introduced populations. Ants are the most abundant group of insects on earth, and numerous ant species are classified as highly invasive. However, little is known about the role of Wolbachia in these ecologically dominant insects. Here, we provide the first description of reproductive manipulation by Wolbachia in an ant. We show that Old and New World populations of the cosmotropic tramp ant Cardiocondyla obscurior harbor distinct Wolbachia strains, and that only the Old World strain manipulates host reproduction by causing cytoplasmic incompatibility in hybrid crosses. By uncovering a symbiont-induced mechanism of reproductive isolation in a social insect, our study provides a novel perspective on the biology of tramp ants and introduces a new system for studying the evolutionary consequences of cytoplasmic incompatibility.