Endosymbiotic bacteria can induce parthenogenesis in many haplo-diploid species, but little is known about their role in asexual reproduction in diplodiploids. Bacteria are essential for reproduction in the asexual lineages of springtails and booklice, and possibly some weevils, but whether they are the causative agent of parthenogenesis remains to be proven. This would require comparing unisexual forms and their closely related bisexual species, but such model species are very rare. Empoasca leafhoppers from the Madeira Archipelago provide an excellent case to test whether bacterial infections can cause parthenogenesis. Here we examined the diversity of the sex-distorting bacteria, Wolbachia, Cardinium, Rickettsia, and Arsenophonus, in three apomictic morphotypes (A, B, C) and three bisexual relatives of Empoasca. Wolbachia of group B was present in all unisexual and bisexual species. Rickettsia were the only bacteria restricted to the three unisexual forms, suggesting an association between infection and asexual reproduction. In addition, we found Asaia for the third time in the Cicadellidae, although this may have little to do with the reproductive mode of its host. Adult females of morphotype C reared on plants watered with tetracycline solution did not result in the production of male offspring. To our knowledge, this is the first study to suggest a possible association between bacterial infection and parthenogenesis in apomictic XO/XX diplodiploid bisexual species based on a range of sex ratio-distorting bacteria.
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