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Diversity and localization of bacterial symbionts in three whitefly species (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) from the east coast of the Adriatic Sea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 June 2012

M. Škaljac*
Institute for Adriatic Crops, Department of Applied Sciences (Plant Protection), Put Duilova 11, 21000 Split, Croatia
K. Žanić
Institute for Adriatic Crops, Department of Applied Sciences (Plant Protection), Put Duilova 11, 21000 Split, Croatia
S. Hrnčić
Biotechnical Faculty, University of Montenegro, Mihaila Lalića 1, 81000 Podgorica, Montenegro
S. Radonjić
Biotechnical Faculty, University of Montenegro, Mihaila Lalića 1, 81000 Podgorica, Montenegro
T. Perović
Biotechnical Faculty, Centre for Suptropical Cultures, Topolica bb, 85000 Bar, Montenegro
M. Ghanim
Institute of Plant Protection, Department of Entomology, Agricultural Research Organization, the Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
*Author for correspondence Fax: +385 21 31 65 84 E-mail:


Several whitefly species (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) are cosmopolitan phloem-feeders that cause serious damage in numerous agricultural crops. All whitefly species harbor a primary bacterial symbiont and a diverse array of secondary symbionts which may influence several aspects of the insect's biology. We surveyed infections by secondary symbionts in Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius), Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) and Siphoninus phillyreae (Haliday) from areas in the east cost of the Adriatic Sea. Both the Middle East-Asia Minor 1 (MEAM1) and Mediterranean (MED) B. tabaci genetic groups were detected in Montenegro, whereas only the MED was confirmed in Croatia. Trialeurodes vaporariorum and S. phillyreae were found in all areas surveyed. MEAM1 and MED exhibited similarity to previously reported infections, while populations of T. vaporariorum from Montenegro harbored Rickettsia, Wolbachia and Cardinium in addition to previously reported Hamiltonella and Arsenopnohus. Siphoninus phillyreae harbored Hamiltonella, Wolbachia, Cardinium and Arsenophonus, with the latter appearing in two alleles. Multiple infections of all symbionts were common in the three insect species tested, with some reaching near fixation. Florescent in situ hybridization showed new localization patterns for Hamiltonella in S. phillyreae, and the morphology of the bacteriosome differed from that observed in other whitefly species. Our results show new infections with bacterial symbionts in the whitefly species studied. Infections with the same symbionts in reproductively isolated whitefly species confirm complex relationships between whiteflies and bacterial symbionts, and suggest possible horizontal transfer of some of these bacteria.

Research Paper
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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