, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 249-262

Negative Evidence of Wolbachia in the Predaceous Mite Phytoseiulus persimilis

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Abstract

The cytoplasmically inherited bacterium Wolbachia is widespread in arthropod species and has been repeatedly detected in the predaceous mite Phytoseiulus persimilis. Our original goal was to assess the prevalence of Wolbachia infection in P. persimilis and the potential fitness consequences for this host. To accomplish that goal, seven P. persimilis strains were obtained from Europe, Africa and the USA and reared on the phytophagous mite Tetranychus urticae as prey. After preliminary results showed that the T. urticae used was infected with Wolbachia, the minimum starvation time of the predators to prevent false positive results from undigested prey was determined. We tested DNA samples by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) after starving the predators or feeding them Wolbachia-free T. urticae for various periods. Those experiments showed that Wolbachia could not be detected after 16 h at 25 °C and 48 h at 20 °C. To verify the results of the PCR analyses, we furthermore conducted crossing experiments with antibiotic-treated and untreated individuals. No indications of Wolbachia effects were recorded. Additionally, we screened live eggs of four of the seven strains reared in our laboratory and alcohol samples of 10 other P. persimilis strains for the occurrence of Wolbachia by PCR, none of which tested positive. Synthesis of our study and previous reports suggests that infection of P. persimilis with Wolbachia is extremely rare and of minor importance. We discuss the significance of our findings for future studies on the presence of Wolbachia in predaceous arthropods.