Incidence of Wolbachia in aquatic insects

Eric J. Sazama, Michael J. Bosch, Carmelita S. Shouldis, Scot P. Ouellette, Jeff S. Wesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Wolbachia is a genus of intracellular bacteria typically found within the reproductive systems of insects that manipulates those systems of their hosts. While current estimates of Wolbachia incidence suggest that it infects approximately half of all arthropod species, these estimates are based almost entirely on terrestrial insects. No systematic survey of Wolbachia in aquatic insects has been performed. To estimate Wolbachia incidence among aquatic insect species, we combined field-collected samples from the Missouri River (251 samples from 58 species) with a global database from previously published surveys. The final database contained 5,598 samples of 2,687 total species (228 aquatic and 2,459 terrestrial). We estimate that 52% (95% CrIs: 44%–60%) of aquatic insect species carry Wolbachia, compared to 60% (58%–63%) of terrestrial insects. Among aquatic insects, infected orders included Odonata, Coleoptera, Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, and Plecoptera. Incidence was highest within aquatic Diptera and Hemiptera (69%), Odonata (50%), and Coleoptera (53%), and was lowest within Ephemeroptera (13%). These results indicate that Wolbachia is common among aquatic insects, but incidence varies widely across orders and is especially uncertain in those orders with low sample sizes such as Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1169
Number of pages5
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Missouri River
  • Wolbachia
  • aquatic insects
  • endosymbiont

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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