The most enigmatic sexual manipulation by Wolbachia endosymbionts is cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI): infected males are reproductively incompatible with uninfected females. In this paper, we extend the theory on population dynamics and evolution of CI, with emphasis on haplodiploid species. First, we focus on the problem of the threshold to invasion of the Wolbachia infection in a population. Simulations of the dynamics of infection in small populations show that it does not suffice to assume invasion by drift alone (or demographic “accident”). We propose several promising alternatives that may facilitate invasion of Wolbachia in uninfected populations: sex-ratio effects, meta population structure, and other fitness-compensating effects. Including sex-ratio effects of Wolbachia allows invasion whenever infected females produce more infected daughters than uninfected females produce uninfected daughters. Several studies on haplodiploid species suggest the presence of such sex-ratio effects. The simple metapopulation model we analyzed predicts that, given that infecteds are better “invaders,” uninfecteds must be better “colonizers” to maintain coexistence of infected and uninfected patches. This condition seems more feasible for species that suffer local extinction due to predation (or parasitization) than for species that suffer local extinction due to overexploiting their resource(s). Finally, we analyze the evolution of CI in haplodiploids once a population has been infected. Evolution does not depend on the type of CI (female mortality or male production), but hinges solely on decreasing the fitness cost and/or increasing the transmission efficiency. Our models offer new perspectives for increasing our understanding of the population and evolutionary dynamics of CI.
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Vol. 56 • No. 6