Data from: The direct effects of male-killer infection on fitness of ladybird hosts (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)
Elnagdy, Sherif et al. (2013), Data from: The direct effects of male-killer infection on fitness of ladybird hosts (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1m166
Male-killing bacteria are common in insects, and are thought to persist in host populations primarily by indirect fitness benefits to infected females, while direct fitness effects are generally assumed to be neutral or deleterious. Here, we estimated the effect of male-killer infection on direct fitness (number of eggs laid, as a measure of fecundity, together with survival) and other life-history traits (development time and body size) in seven ladybird host/male-killer combinations. Effects of male-killers on fecundity ranged, as expected, from costly to neutral, however we found evidence of reduced development time and increased survival and body size, in infected strains. Greater body size in Spiroplasma-infected Harmonia axyridis corresponded to greater ovariole number, and therefore higher potential fecundity. To our knowledge, this is the first report of direct benefits of male-killer infection after explicitly controlling for indirect fitness effects. Neutral or deleterious fitness effects of male-killer infection should not therefore be automatically assumed.