The prevalence of three endosymbiotic bacteria in the invasive yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes)

Alexandra SEBASTIEN *1, Monica GRUBER 1, Phil LESTER 1

1 School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140

Eligible for student prize

Invasive ant species, such as the yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes), are a global issue causing both economic expense and ecological damage. We screened populations of yellow crazy ants for the presence of three known endosymbionts (Wolbachia, Arsenophonus and Rhizobiales) from four sites in the Pacific Islands and five in Australia. The same genotype of Wolbachia was found in all samples with a high prevalence. Arsenophonus was detected in six out of the nine populations with a maximum prevalence of 51% in Arnhem Land, Australia. Rhizobiales was found at a prevalence of less than 15%, and in only three sites. We suggest that the introduction of different strains of Wolbachia or Arsenophonus could form part of a management program in highly infected sites as individuals infected by different strains of these bacteria cannot reproduce.

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