Scientists have found the most convincing evidence yet that a parasite can contribute to splitting a species in two, thanks to a phenomenon where a wasp’s damaged sperm can be “rescued” or fixed only by mating with particular females. A bacterium called Wolbachia prevents the successful development of embryos in matings between two very closely related wasp species that could otherwise produce viable offspring. In the February 8th issue of Nature, University of Rochester researchers show that the bacterium’s species-splitting effect came before any other in the wasps, strongly suggesting that the parasite accelerated the natural evolution of the insect. The research was conducted by two graduate students, Seth Bordenstein and Patrick O’Hara, and led by John Werren, professor of biology.
The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Rochester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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