Rapid spread of a male-killing Wolbachia in the butterfly Hypolimnas bolina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Reproductive parasites such as Wolbachia can spread through uninfected host populations by increasing the relative fitness of the infected maternal lineage. However, empirical estimates of how fast this process occurs are limited. Here we use nucleotide sequences of male‐killing Wolbachia bacteria and co‐inherited mitochondria to address this issue in the island butterfly Hypolimnas bolina. We show that infected specimens scattered throughout the species range harbour the same Wolbachia and mitochondrial DNA as inferred from 6337 bp of the bacterial genome and 2985 bp of the mitochondrial genome, suggesting this strain of Wolbachia has spread across the South Pacific Islands at most 3000 years ago, and probably much more recently.


External organisations
  • University College London
  • University of Queensland
  • Claude Bernard University Lyon 1
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Evolutionary Biology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-235
JournalJournal of evolutionary biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes