Evolutionary history of a mosquito endosymbiont revealed through mitochondrial hitchhiking

Jason L. Rasgon, Anthony J. Cornel, Thomas W. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Due to cytoplasmic inheritance, spread of maternally inherited Wolbachia symbionts can result in reduction of mitochondrial variation in populations. We examined sequence diversity of the mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4 (ND4) gene in Wolbachia-infected (South Africa (SA), California and Thailand) and uninfected (SA) Culex pipiens complex populations. In total, we identified 12 haplotypes (A-L). In infected populations, 99% of individuals had haplotype K. In the uninfected SA population, 11 haplotypes were present, including K. Nuclear allozyme diversity was similar between infected and uninfected SA populations. Analysis of nuclear DNA sequences suggested that haplotype K presence in uninfected SA Cx. pipiens was probably due to a shared ancestral polymorphism rather than hybrid introgression. These data indicate that Wolbachia spread has resulted in drastic reduction of mitochondrial variability in widely separated Cx. pipiens complex populations. In contrast, the uninfected SA population is probably a cryptic species where Wolbachia introgression has been prevented by reproductive isolation, maintaining ancestral levels of mitochondrial diversity. Molecular clock analyses suggest that the Wolbachia sweep occurred within the last 47 000 years. The effect of Wolbachia on mitochondrial dynamics can provide insight on the potential for Wolbachia to spread transgenes into mosquito populations to control vector-borne diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1603-1611
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1594
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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