Zélé, F., Santos, J., Godinho, D.P. & Magalhães, S. (2018) Wolbachia both aids and hampers the performance of spider mites on different host plants.FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 94(12), fiy187. DOI:10.1101/344143 (IF2017 3,495; Q2 Microbiology)
In the last few decades, many studies have revealed the potential role of arthropod bacterial endosymbionts in shaping the host range of generalist herbivores and their performance on different host plants, which, in turn, might affect endosymbiont distribution in herbivore populations. We tested this by measuring the prevalence of endosymbionts in natural populations of the generalist spider mite Tetranychus urticae on different host plants. Focusing on Wolbachia, we then analysed how symbionts affected mite life-history traits on the same host plants in the laboratory. Overall, the prevalences of Cardinium and Rickettsia were low, whereas that of Wolbachia was high, with the highest values on bean and eggplant and the lowest on morning glory, tomato and zuchini. Although most mite life-history traits were affected by the plant species only, Wolbachia infection was detrimental for the egg-hatching rate on morning glory and zucchini, and led to a more female-biased sex ratio on morning glory and eggplant. These results suggest that endosymbionts may affect the host range of polyphagous herbivores, both by aiding and hampering their performance, depending on the host plant and on the life-history trait that affects performance the most. Conversely, endosymbiont spread may be facilitated or hindered by the plants on which infected herbivores occur.