Evolutionary Fast Track

via Sweet Potato Whitefly on the Evolutionary Fast Track – NYTimes.com.

It appears to be a case of high-speed evolution.

Many arthropods — the large group of invertebrates that includes insects and crustaceans — are hosts of symbiotic bacteria inherited through the maternal line. The sweet potato whitefly, an agricultural pest, has acquired a new one.

The bacterium enhances the fly’s ability to survive and reproduce.

Compared with uninfected whiteflies, infected insects develop faster, are more likely to survive to adulthood and lay more eggs. Moreover, the bacterium induces the insects to produce a larger number of daughters, advantageous for a bacterium that is passed to the next generation only by the females.

How does the bacterium do this?  Will it create a ‘super-pest’?   Can we use this?

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