Competing Selfish Genetic Elements in the Butterfly Hypolimnas bolina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Maternally inherited selfish genetic elements are common in animals [1]. Whereas host genetics and ecology are recognized as factors that may limit the incidence of these parasites [2, 3], theory suggests one further factor-interference with other selfish elements-that could affect their prevalence [4, 5]. In this paper, we show that spatial heterogeneity in the occurrence of the male-killing Wolbachia wBol1 in the tropical butterfly Hypolimnas bolina [6] is caused by a second infection that can exclude the male-killer. We first provide evidence of a second Wolbachia strain, wBol2, present in most populations that do not carry the male-killer but rare or absent when the male-killer is present. Crossing data indicate that wBol2 in males induces cytoplasmic incompatibility to both uninfected and wBol1-infected females. The wBol2 infection can therefore not only spread through uninfected populations but also resist invasion by wBol1. Thus, we provide empirical support for the hypothesis that the incidence of particular selfish genetic elements can limit the presence of competing types.


  • Sylvain Charlat
  • Jan Engelstädter
  • Emily A. Dyson
  • Emily A. Hornett
  • Anne Duplouy
  • Pablo Tortosa
  • Neil Davies
  • George K. Roderick
  • Nina Wedell
  • Gregory D.D. Hurst
External organisations
  • University College London
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Queensland
  • University of Exeter
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Evolutionary Biology


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2453-2458
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Dec 19
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes