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Psyche
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 432151, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/432151
Research Article

Sporadic Infection of Wolbachia in a Recently Established Population of Formica fusca

Department of Biology, Colgate University, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13346, USA

Received 1 October 2011; Revised 7 December 2011; Accepted 12 December 2011

Academic Editor: Alain Lenoir

Copyright © 2012 Krista K. Ingram et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study examines the distribution and invasion dynamics of Wolbachia in a recently established Formica fusca population. Preliminary data revealed the intermittent infection of Wolbachia across colonies, providing the opportunity to test for ecological factors affecting the acquisition and spread of the parasite. Only 35% of colonies are infected in this population. Both infected and noninfected nests have similar dispersion patterns that approximate a random distribution, suggesting that transmission of Wolbachia between adjacent colonies is not common. There is no difference in the infection rate between workers and brood, indicating that workers are not actively eliminating the infection. Our results show no significant association between Wolbachia infection and nest size; however, infected colonies tend to be larger than noninfected colonies. Finally, Wolbachia infection was not associated with queen number. Overall, our results suggest no large fitness differences between infected and noninfected colonies, although small fitness effects cannot be ruled out for this population.