Comparison of the incidence of sibling cannibalism between male-killing Spiroplasma infected and uninfected clutches of a predatory ladybird beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

K. Nakamura, K. Miura, P.W. de Jong, H. Ueno

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The incidence of sibling cannibalism in clutches of Harmonia axyridis infected by the male-killing Spiroplasma was compared with that in uninfected clutches, and the way in which fitness compensation was realized by sibling cannibalism was investigated. Primarily the rate of sibling cannibalism was determined by the hatching rate as all unviable eggs were consumed both in infected and uninfected clutches. Per capita consumption of roughly 0.1 individuals was estimated for uninfected clutches in the present study, as compared to 0.3 individuals in previous studies. The per capita consumption in infected clutches was 1.4, showing that the male-killing behavior of the Spiroplasma provides an approximately 4¿14 fold increase in the chance of sibling cannibalism. Both in infected and uninfected clutches, the median of the starting time of sibling cannibalism was soon after that of the completion of hatching. Larvae started to disperse from their egg clutches only about 7.5¿8.5 h after the initiation of hatching. These time sequences indicate that sibling cannibalism occurs at the earlier stage of the hatching process and the density of aphids in the area has little or no influence on incidence of the sibling cannibalism. During the maintenance of the infected line for five generations, exclusively females were produced and the median of the hatching rate was 0.395, suggesting a very high rate of vertical transmission of the Spiroplasma infection. Although the measurement of other parameters, such as the effect of Spiroplasma infection on fecundity or longevity, are necessary, the high compensation rate shown in the present study, together with the very high vertical transmission, may explain the prevalence of the present male-killing agent in the local populations of the ladybird beetle
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-326
JournalEuropean Journal of Entomology
Publication statusPublished - 2006



  • pallas coleoptera
  • sex-ratio
  • microorganisms
  • populations
  • prevalence
  • evolution

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