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Data from: Limited female dispersal predicts the incidence of Wolbachia across ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Citation

Treanor, David; Hughes, William O. H. (2019), Data from: Limited female dispersal predicts the incidence of Wolbachia across ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4n6n2s5

Abstract

The endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia is perhaps the greatest panzootic in the history of life on Earth, yet remarkably little is known regarding the factors that determine its incidence across species. One possibility is that Wolbachia more easily invades species with structured populations, due to the increased strength of genetic drift and higher initial frequency of infection. This should enable strains that induce mating incompatibilities to more easily cross the threshold prevalence above which they spread to either fixation or a stable equilibrium infection prevalence. Here, we provide empirical support for this hypothesis by analysing the relationship between female dispersal (as a proxy for population structure) and the incidence of Wolbachia across 250 species of ants. We show that species in which the dispersal of reproductive females is limited are significantly more likely to be infected with Wolbachia than species whose reproductive ecology is consistent with significant dispersal of females, and that this relationship remains after controlling for host phylogeny. We suggest that structured host populations, in this case resulting from limited dispersal, may be an important factor in determining how easily Wolbachia becomes successfully established in a novel host, and thus its occurrence across a wide diversity of invertebrate hosts.

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