Behavioral and spermatogenic hybrid male breakdown in Nasonia

Heredity (Edinb). 2010 Mar;104(3):289-301. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2009.152. Epub 2010 Jan 20.


Several reproductive barriers exist within the Nasonia species complex, including allopatry, premating behavioral isolation, postzygotic inviability and Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility. Here we show that hybrid males suffer two additional reproductive disadvantages, an inability to properly court females and decreased sperm production. Hybrid behavioral sterility, characterized by a reduced ability of hybrids to perform necessary courtship behaviors, occurs in hybrids between two species of Nasonia. Hybrid males produced in crosses between N. vitripennis and N. giraulti courted females at a reduced frequency (23-69%), compared with wild-type N. vitripennis and N. giraulti males (>93%). Reduced courtship frequency was not a simple function of inactivity among hybrids. A strong effect of cytoplasmic (mitochondrial) background was also found in N. vitripennis and N. giraulti crosses; F2 hybrids with giraulti cytoplasm showing reduced ability at most stages of courtship. Hybrids produced between a younger species pair, N. giraulti and N. longicornis, were behaviorally fertile. All males possessed motile sperm, but sperm production is greatly reduced in hybrids between the older species pair, N. vitripennis and N. giraulti. This effect on hybrid males, lowered sperm counts rather than nonfunctional sperm, is different from most described cases of hybrid male sterility, and may represent an earlier stage of hybrid sperm breakdown. The results add to previous studies of F2 hybrid inviability and behavioral sterility, and indicate that Wolbachia-induced hybrid incompatibility has arisen early in species divergence, relative to behavioral sterility and spermatogenic infertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chimera / genetics
  • Chimera / physiology*
  • Courtship
  • Female
  • Infertility
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Spermatogenesis*
  • Spermatozoa / cytology*
  • Wasps / genetics
  • Wasps / physiology*