Navigation Links
Male-killing bacteria makes female butterflies more promiscuous

A study at UCL (University College London) finds that a high-prevalence of male-killing bacteria active in many species of insect including the butterfly, actually increases female promiscuity and male fatigue.

The team found that when the male insect population drops -- killed off by the bacteria -- the female butterfly becomes more sexually rampant. Males on the other hand show signs of fatigue and put less effort into mating.

In some populations of tropical butterfly the entire mating system is determined by a group of bacteria known as Wolbachia, according to the study, published in the journal ‘Current Biology'.

Dr Sylvain Charlat, of the UCL Department of Biology, who led the study, said: "Male-killling bacteria are found in many insect species including the British ladybird. We wanted to know what the effect of the bacteria is on the mating system, and here we've shown that butterfly mating patterns are strongly determined by the killer bacteria.

"Contrary to expectation, we also find that female promiscuity actually rises when male numbers are reduced. Greater numbers of female partners leads to fatigue in males. They start producing smaller sperm packages. Unfortunately, the female butterflies instinctively know that the packages are smaller and that their chances of having been impregnated after mating are lower than usual. This just makes them more rampant!"

The male-killling bacterium is transmitted from mother to son and actually kills the son before the embryo hatches into a caterpillar. Only female offspring of female carriers of the bacteria can survive, which can lead to the male population being as low as one male to every hundred females in some areas.

Dr Greg Hurst, of the UCL Department of Biology and a senior author of the study, said: "It's amazing that the numbers of male butterflies can get so low and yet the population is still sustainable and stable. You don't need many male butter flies to continue the population successfully. This is partly because the decision to mate is mainly under female control and because males have a high mating capacity."

This study was carried out on Hypolimnas bolina butterflies in Pacific Island and South-East Asian populations. The islands provide an ideal location because every island is differently affected by the male-killling bacteria so that each has a different ratio of males to females.

The researchers assessed the natural sex ratio in 20 populations and combined this data with female mating frequency and the size of the male sperm package (Spermatophore) per copulation to find how female promiscuity was affected by the sex ratio. They found that the size of the Spermatophore was key to female promiscuity. However, female promiscuity only rises up to the point where males become so rare that female virginity rates rise.

The male-killling phenomenon in this species was first identified in 1920 by Hubert Simmonds but has not received much attention until now. This finding is significant for the scientific community because it demonstrates how a species' mating system can be determined by the frequency of a parasite.
'"/>

Source:University College London


Related biology news :

1. Anti-bacterial additive widespread in U.S. waterways
2. A bacterial genome reveals new targets to combat infectious disease
3. Discovery of key proteins shape could lead to improved bacterial pneumonia vaccine
4. Scientists discover that host cell lipids facilitate bacterial movement
5. Family trees of ancient bacteria reveal evolutionary moves
6. Drug-resistant bacteria on poultry products differ by brand
7. Programmable cells: Engineer turns bacteria into living computers
8. NASA links nanobacteria to kidney stones and other diseases
9. Substance protects resilient staph bacteria
10. Physiological effects of reduced gravity on bacteria
11. Anammox bacteria produce nitrogen gas in oceans snackbar

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/2/2016)... 2, 2016  Based on its recent analysis ... recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) with ... for New Product Innovation. IRIS, a prominent cloud-based ... America , is poised to set the ... retinopathy market. The IRIS technology presents superior price-performance ...
(Date:1/27/2016)... WEST CHESTER, Ohio , Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... services supplier based in West Chester, Ohio ... and their award winning service staff, based in ... Track,s technical capacity and ability to provide modifications, installations ... John Dovalina , CEO of PLUS, commented, "PLUS ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... 21, 2016 --> ... market research report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Technology ... (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), Services, Application ... to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global Emotion ... USD 22.65 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... Reichert Technologies, which has ... to pursue the highest level of accuracy and quality with the addition of ... the AR5 Refractometer. Accurate, reliable and tough enough for the most demanding ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... Global ... treatment clinic in Quito, Ecuador. The new facility will provide advanced protocols and ... from around the world. , The new GSCG clinic is headed by ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Early-career researchers from Indonesia ... Uganda and Yemen ... Indonesia , Nepal , ... Yemen are being honored for their accomplishments in nutrition, psychiatry, ... mentoring young women scientists who are pursuing careers in agriculture, biology and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... -- NX Prenatal Inc., a US based molecular ... early warning of adverse pregnancy outcomes, announced today ... Dr. Thomas McElrath of Brigham & ... (SMFM) annual meeting held in Atlanta ... presentation reported initial positive top-line results regarding the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: