Invertebrate Microbiology

Microbial Ecology

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 211-223

First online:

Detection of Spiroplasma and Wolbachia in the Bacterial Gonad Community of Chorthippus parallelus

  • P. Martínez-RodríguezAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología (Genética), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Email author 
  • , M. Hernández-PérezAffiliated withLaboratorio de Biología Molecular, Instituto Tecnológico Agrario, Junta de Castilla y León
  • , J. L BellaAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología (Genética), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

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We have recently detected the endosymbiont Wolbachia in multiple individuals and populations of the grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus (Orthoptera: acrididae). This bacterium induces reproductive anomalies, including cytoplasmic incompatibility. Such incompatibilities may help explain the maintenance of two distinct subspecies of this grasshopper, C. parallelus parallelus and C. parallelus erythropus, which are involved in a Pyrenean hybrid zone that has been extensively studied for the past 20 years, becoming a model system for the study of genetic divergence and speciation. To evaluate whether Wolbachia is the sole bacterial infection that might induce reproductive anomalies, the gonadal bacterial community of individuals from 13 distinct populations of C. parallelus was determined by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis of bacterial 16S rRNA gene fragments and sequencing. The study revealed low bacterial diversity in the gonads: a persistent bacterial trio consistent with Spiroplasma sp. and the two previously described supergroups of Wolbachia (B and F) dominated the gonad microbiota. A further evaluation of the composition of the gonad bacterial communities was carried out by whole cell hybridization. Our results confirm previous studies of the cytological distribution of Wolbachia in C. parallelus gonads and show a homogeneous infection by Spiroplasma. Spiroplasma and Wolbachia cooccurred in some individuals, but there was no significant association of Spiroplasma with a grasshopper’s sex or with Wolbachia infection, although subtle trends might be detected with a larger sample size. This information, together with previous experimental crosses of this grasshopper, suggests that Spiroplasma is unlikely to contribute to sex-specific reproductive anomalies; instead, they implicate Wolbachia as the agent of the observed anomalies in C. parallelus.