Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Article

Biotype-dependent secondary symbiont communities in sympatric populations of Bemisia tabaci

E. Chiela1a2, Y. Gottlieba3, E. Zchori-Feina1 c1, N. Mozes-Daubea1, N. Katzira4, M. Inbara2 and M. Ghanima3

a1 Department of Entomology, Newe-Ya'ar Research Center, ARO, Ramat-Yishai, 30095

a2 Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, University of Haifa, Haifa, 31905

a3 Department of Entomology, the Volcani Center, ARO, Beit-Dagan

a4 Department of Vegetable Crops, Newe-Ya'ar Research Center, ARO, Ramat-Yishai, 30095


The sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, harbors Portiera aleyrodidarum, an obligatory symbiotic bacterium, as well as several secondary symbionts including Rickettsia, Hamiltonella, Wolbachia, Arsenophonus, Cardinium and Fritschea, the function of which is unknown. Bemisia tabaci is a species complex composed of numerous biotypes, which may differ from each other both genetically and biologically. Only the B and Q biotypes have been reported from Israel. Secondary symbiont infection frequencies of Israeli laboratory and field populations of B. tabaci from various host plants were determined by PCR, in order to test for correlation between bacterial composition to biotype and host plant. Hamiltonella was detected only in populations of the B biotype, while Wolbachia and Arsenophonus were found only in the Q biotype (33% and 87% infection, respectively). Rickettsia was abundant in both biotypes. Cardinium and Fritschea were not found in any of the populations. No differences in secondary symbionts were found among host plants within the B biotype; but within the Q biotype, all whiteflies collected from sage harboured both Rickettsia and Arsenophonus, an infection frequency which was significantly higher than those found in association with all other host plants. The association found between whitefly biotypes and secondary symbionts suggests a possible contribution of these bacteria to host characteristics such as insecticide resistance, host range, virus transmission and speciation.

(Accepted January 04 2007)


c1 Corresponding author E-mail: einat@agri.gov.il