Intersex phenotypes are rarely observed in natural isopod populations and their expression is typically associated with infection of Wolbachia, a reproductive parasite that manipulates arthropod reproduction. During an intensive sampling effort of a natural population of the isopod Porcellio scaber, an adult individual was isolated that expressed both male and female traits. The intersex individual exhibited clearly developed external male genitalia and carried multiple eggs in its brood pouch. No Wolbachia infection could be identified in this individual, a result that needs to be approached with caution due to suboptimal DNA preservation for diagnostic PCR assays. Wolbachia were, however, detected in two adult females of the same population, and appear closely related to isolates that infect other terrestrial isopod species. This is the first demonstration that intersex phenotypes can arise under natural conditions in P. scaber.
- Intersex phenotypes