+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Evidence for common horizontal transmission of Wolbachia among butterflies and moths

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.



          Wolbachia is one of the most widespread bacteria on Earth. Previous research on Wolbachia-host interactions indicates that the bacterium is typically transferred vertically, from mother to offspring, through the egg cytoplasm. Although horizontal transmission of Wolbachia from one species to another is reported to be common in arthropods, limited direct ecological evidence is available. In this study, we examine horizontal transmission of Wolbachia using a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) strains dataset and used Wolbachia and Lepidoptera genomes to search for evidence for lateral gene transfer (LGT) in Lepidoptera, one of the most diverse cosmopolitan insect orders. We constructed a phylogeny of arthropod-associated MLST Wolbachia strains and calibrated the age of Wolbachia strains associated with lepidopteran species.


          Our results reveal inter-specific, inter-generic, inter-familial, and inter-ordinal horizontal transmission of Wolbachia strains, without discernible geographic patterns. We found at least seven probable cases of horizontal transmission among 31 species within Lepidoptera and between Lepidoptera and other arthropod hosts. The divergence time analysis revealed that Wolbachia is recently (22.6–4.7 mya, 95 % HPD) introduced in Lepidoptera. Analysis of nine Lepidoptera genomes ( Bombyx mori, Danaus plexippus, Heliconius melpomene, Manduca sexta, Melitaea cinxia, Papilio glaucus, P. polytes, P. xuthus and Plutella xylostella) yielded one possible instance of Wolbachia LGT.


          Our results provide evidence of high incidence of identical and multiple strains of Wolbachia among butterflies and moths, adding Lepidoptera to the growing body of evidence for common horizontal transmission of Wolbachia. This study demonstrates interesting dynamics of this remarkable and influential microorganism.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-016-0660-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 81

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Fast algorithms for large-scale genome alignment and comparison.

          We describe a suffix-tree algorithm that can align the entire genome sequences of eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms with minimal use of computer time and memory. The new system, MUMmer 2, runs three times faster while using one-third as much memory as the original MUMmer system. It has been used successfully to align the entire human and mouse genomes to each other, and to align numerous smaller eukaryotic and prokaryotic genomes. A new module permits the alignment of multiple DNA sequence fragments, which has proven valuable in the comparison of incomplete genome sequences. We also describe a method to align more distantly related genomes by detecting protein sequence homology. This extension to MUMmer aligns two genomes after translating the sequence in all six reading frames, extracts all matching protein sequences and then clusters together matches. This method has been applied to both incomplete and complete genome sequences in order to detect regions of conserved synteny, in which multiple proteins from one organism are found in the same order and orientation in another. The system code is being made freely available by the authors.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            A cladistic analysis of phenotypic associations with haplotypes inferred from restriction endonuclease mapping and DNA sequence data. III. Cladogram estimation.

            We previously developed a cladistic approach to identify subsets of haplotypes defined by restriction endonuclease mapping or DNA sequencing that are associated with significant phenotypic deviations. Our approach was limited to segments of DNA in which little recombination occurs. In such cases, a cladogram can be constructed from the restriction site or sequence data that represents the evolutionary steps that interrelate the observed haplotypes. The cladogram is used to define a nested statistical design to identify mutational steps associated with significant phenotypic deviations. The central assumption behind this strategy is that any undetected mutation causing a phenotypic effect is embedded within the same evolutionary history that is represented by the cladogram. The power of this approach depends upon the confidence one has in the particular cladogram used to draw inferences. In this paper, we present a strategy for estimating the set of cladograms that are consistent with a particular sample of either restriction site or nucleotide sequence data and that includes the possibility of recombination. We first evaluate the limits of parsimony in constructing cladograms. Once these limits have been determined, we construct the set of parsimonious and nonparsimonious cladograms that is consistent with these limits. Our estimation procedure also identifies haplotypes that are candidates for being products of recombination. If recombination is extensive, our algorithm subdivides the DNA region into two or more subsections, each having little or no internal recombination. We apply this estimation procedure to three data sets to illustrate varying degrees of cladogram ambiguity and recombination.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Widespread lateral gene transfer from intracellular bacteria to multicellular eukaryotes.

              Although common among bacteria, lateral gene transfer-the movement of genes between distantly related organisms-is thought to occur only rarely between bacteria and multicellular eukaryotes. However, the presence of endosymbionts, such as Wolbachia pipientis, within some eukaryotic germlines may facilitate bacterial gene transfers to eukaryotic host genomes. We therefore examined host genomes for evidence of gene transfer events from Wolbachia bacteria to their hosts. We found and confirmed transfers into the genomes of four insect and four nematode species that range from nearly the entire Wolbachia genome (>1 megabase) to short (<500 base pairs) insertions. Potential Wolbachia-to-host transfers were also detected computationally in three additional sequenced insect genomes. We also show that some of these inserted Wolbachia genes are transcribed within eukaryotic cells lacking endosymbionts. Therefore, heritable lateral gene transfer occurs into eukaryotic hosts from their prokaryote symbionts, potentially providing a mechanism for acquisition of new genes and functions.

                Author and article information

                BMC Evol Biol
                BMC Evol. Biol
                BMC Evolutionary Biology
                BioMed Central (London )
                27 May 2016
                27 May 2016
                : 16
                Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA
                © Ahmed et al. 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef, National Science Foundation;
                Award ID: DEB-1354585
                Award ID: DEB-1541500
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef, University of Florida;
                Funded by: FundRef, University of Florida;
                Award ID: Research Opportunity Seed Fund (ROSF)
                Award Recipient :
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2016

                Evolutionary Biology

                transmission route, butterfly, genome, lateral gene transfer, mlst strains, moth, symbiont


                Comment on this article