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Thelytokous parthenogenesis in the damselfly Ischnura hastata (Odonata, Coenagrionidae): genetic mechanisms and lack of bacterial infection

Heredity volume 103, pages 377384 (2009) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Thelytokous parthenogenesis, the production of female-only offspring from unfertilized eggs, has been described in all the insect orders, but is a rare phenomenon in the Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). The only-known case of parthenogenesis in this group is the North American damselfly species Ischnura hastata, which has parthenogenetic populations in the Azores Islands. Here, we present for the first time the results of laboratory rearing, which showed parthenogenetic reproduction in the Azorean I. hastata populations. In an attempt to understand how parthenogenesis could have evolved in this species, we first determined the genetic mode of parthenogenesis by analysing the genotype of parthenogenetic females and their offspring at three polymorphic microsatellite loci. In addition, we used polymerase chain reaction amplification to test whether parthenogenesis in I. hastata could be bacterially induced. Our data indicate that thelytoky is achieved through an (at least functionally) apomictic mechanism and that parthenogenesis is not caused by endosymbionts. Finally, we discuss possible routes to parthenogenetic reproduction, as well as the evolutionary implications of this type of parthenogenesis.

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Acknowledgements

This research has been funded by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Culture, which included FEDER funds (CGL2005-00122). We thank the Instituto para a Conservaçao da Natureza (Lisbon) and the Secretaria Regional do Ambiente (Faial) for permits to collect damselflies in the Azores. We thank Aurore Dubuffet, Greg Hurst and John Werren for providing the positive controls for the endosymbiont detection. Thanks are also due to Christopher D. Beatty, for his comments on the manuscript and for improving the English. George Heimpel and two anonymous referees gave useful suggestions in early drafts of the paper.

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  1. Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Grupo de Ecoloxía Evolutiva e da Conservación, Universidade de Vigo, EUET Forestal, Campus Universitario, Pontevedra, España, Spain

    • M O Lorenzo-Carballa
    •  & A Cordero-Rivera

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Correspondence to M O Lorenzo-Carballa.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/hdy.2009.65

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