The close association between the olive flyBactrocera oleae(Rossi) (Diptera: Tephritidae) and bacteria has been known for more than a century. Recently, the presence of a host-specific, hereditary, unculturable symbiotic bacterium, designated ‘CandidatusErwinia dacicola’, has been described inside the cephalic organ of the fly, called the oesophageal bulb. In the present study, the 16S rRNA gene sequence variability of ‘Ca.E. dacicola’ was examined within and between 26 Italian olive fly populations sampled across areas where olive trees occur in the wild and areas where cultivated olive trees have been introduced through history. The bacterial contents of the oesophageal bulbs of 314 olive flies were analysed and a minimum of 781 bp of the 16S rRNA gene was sequenced. The corresponding host fly genotype was assessed by sequencing a 776 bp portion of the mitochondrial genome. Two ‘Ca. E. dacicola’ haplotypes were found (htA and htB), one being slightly more prevalent than the other (57 %). The two haplotypes did not co-exist in the same individuals, as confirmed by cloning. Interestingly, the olive fly populations of the two main Italian islands, Sicily and Sardinia, appeared to be represented exclusively by the htB and htA haplotypes, respectively, while peninsular populations showed both bacterial haplotypes in different proportions. No significant correlation emerged between the two symbiont haplotypes and the 16 host fly haplotypes observed, suggesting evidence for a mixed model of vertical and horizontal transmission of the symbiont during the fly life cycle.