Endosymbiont costs and benefits in a parasitoid infected with both Wolbachia and Cardinium

J. A. White, S. E. Kelly, S. N. Cockburn, S. J. Perlman, M. S. Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Theory suggests that maternally inherited endosymbionts can promote their spread and persistence in host populations by enhancing the production of daughters by infected hosts, either by improving overall host fitness, or through reproductive manipulation. In the doubly infected parasitoid wasp Encarsia inaron, Wolbachia manipulates host reproduction through cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), but Cardinium does not. We investigated the fitness costs and/or benefits of infection by each bacterium in differentially cured E. inaron as a potential explanation for persistence of Cardinium in this population. We introgressed lines infected with Wolbachia, Cardinium or both with the cured line to create a similar genetic background, and evaluated several parasitoid fitness parameters. We found that symbiont infection resulted in both fitness costs and benefits for E. inaron. The cost was lower initial egg load for all infected wasps. The benefit was increased survivorship, which in turn increased male production for wasps infected with only Cardinium. Female production was unaffected by symbiont infection; we therefore have not yet identified a causal fitness effect that can explain the persistence of Cardinium in the population. Interestingly, the Cardinium survivorship benefit was not evident when Wolbachia was also present in the host, and the reproduction of doubly infected individuals did not differ significantly from uninfected wasps. Therefore, the results of our study show that even when multiple infections seem to have no effect on a host, there may be a complex interaction of costs and benefits among symbionts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-591
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • facultative symbiont
  • multiple infection
  • reproductive parasite
  • secondary symbiont
  • sex ratio
  • sperm depletion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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