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May 1, 2019

Genetic basis for the establishment of endosymbiosis in Paramecium.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium bursaria is an indispensable model for investigating endosymbiosis between protists and green-algal symbionts. To elucidate the mechanism of this type of endosymbiosis, we combined PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a high-quality and near-complete macronuclear genome of P. bursaria. The genomic characteristics and phylogenetic analyses indicate that P. bursaria is the basal clade of the Paramecium genus. Through comparative genomic analyses with its close relatives, we found that P. bursaria encodes more genes related to nitrogen metabolism and mineral absorption, but encodes fewer genes involved in oxygen binding and N-glycan biosynthesis. A comparison of the transcriptomic…

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April 1, 2019

Large Enriched Fragment Targeted Sequencing (LEFT-SEQ) Applied to Capture of Wolbachia Genomes.

Symbiosis is a major force of evolutionary change, influencing virtually all aspects of biology, from population ecology and evolution to genomics and molecular/biochemical mechanisms of development and reproduction. A remarkable example is Wolbachia endobacteria, present in some parasitic nematodes and many arthropod species. Acquisition of genomic data from diverse Wolbachia clades will aid in the elucidation of the different symbiotic mechanisms(s). However, challenges of de novo assembly of Wolbachia genomes include the presence in the sample of host DNA: nematode/vertebrate or insect. We designed biotinylated probes to capture large fragments of Wolbachia DNA for sequencing using PacBio technology (LEFT-SEQ: Large…

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April 1, 2019

Insight into the microbial world of Bemisia tabaci cryptic species complex and its relationships with its host.

The 37 currently recognized Bemisia tabaci cryptic species are economically important species and contain both primary and secondary endosymbionts, but their diversity has never been mapped systematically across the group. To achieve this, PacBio sequencing of full-length bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplicons was carried out on 21 globally collected species in the B. tabaci complex, and two samples from B. afer were used here as outgroups. The microbial diversity was first explored across the major lineages of the whole group and 15 new putative bacterial sequences were observed. Extensive comparison of our results with previous endosymbiont diversity surveys which used…

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February 1, 2019

Genome expansion of an obligate parthenogenesis-associated Wolbachia poses an exception to the symbiont reduction model.

Theory predicts that dependency within host-endosymbiont interactions results in endosymbiont genome size reduction. Unexpectedly, the largest Wolbachia genome was found in the obligate, parthenogenesis-associated wFol. In this study, we investigate possible processes underlying this genome expansion by comparing a re-annotated wFol genome to other Wolbachia genomes. In addition, we also search for candidate genes related to parthenogenesis induction (PI).Within wFol, we found five phage WO regions representing 25.4% of the complete genome, few pseudogenized genes, and an expansion of DNA-repair genes in comparison to other Wolbachia. These signs of genome conservation were mirrored in the wFol host, the springtail F.…

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January 1, 2019

Toxin and genome evolution in a Drosophila defensive symbiosis.

Defenses conferred by microbial symbionts play a vital role in the health and fitness of their animal hosts. An important outstanding question in the study of defensive symbiosis is what determines long term stability and effectiveness against diverse natural enemies. In this study, we combine genome and transcriptome sequencing, symbiont transfection and parasite protection experiments, and toxin activity assays to examine the evolution of the defensive symbiosis between Drosophila flies and their vertically transmitted Spiroplasma bacterial symbionts, focusing in particular on ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs), symbiont-encoded toxins that have been implicated in protection against both parasitic wasps and nematodes. Although many…

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November 1, 2018

Methanogenic and bacterial endosymbionts of free-living anaerobic ciliates

Trimyema compressum thrives in anoxic freshwater environments in which it preys on bacteria and grows with fermentative metabolisms. Like many anaerobic protozoa, instead of mitochondria, T. compressum possess hydrogenosomes, which are hydrogen-producing, energy-generating organelles characteristic of anaerobic protozoa and fungi. The cytoplasm of T. compressum harbours hydrogenotrophic methanogens that consume the hydrogen produced by hydrogenosome, which confers an energetic advantage to the host ciliate. Symbiotic associations between methanogenic archaea and Trimyema ciliates are thought to be established independently and/or repeatedly in their evolutional history. In addition to methanogenic symbionts, T. compressum houses bacterial symbiont TC1 whose function is unknown in…

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October 1, 2018

Complete genome sequence of Agrobacterium pusense VsBac-Y9, a bacterial symbiont of the dark septate endophytic fungus Veronaeopsis simplex Y34 with potential for improving fungal colonization in roots.

A Rhizobium-related bacterium (Rhizobium sp. VsBac-Y9) is a symbiont living with the dark septate endophytic (DSE) fungus Veronaeopsis simplex Y34. Co-inoculation of Rhizobium sp. VsBac-Y9 with V. simplex Y34 improves the fungal colonization of tomato roots, resulting in a significant increase in aboveground biomass. This study sequenced the complete genome of this V. simplex-helper bacterium using the PacBio and Illumina MiSeq platforms. Hybrid assembly using SPAdes outputted a circular chromosome, a linear chromid, and a circular plasmid for a total genome 5,321,211 bp in size with a G?+?C content of 59.2%. Analysis of concatenated housekeeping genes (atpD-dnaK-groEL-lepA-recA-rpoB-thrE) and calculation of…

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July 1, 2018

Evidence of non-tandemly repeated rDNAs and their intragenomic heterogeneity in Rhizophagus irregularis

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) species are some of the most widespread symbionts of land plants. Our much improved reference genome assembly of a model AMF, Rhizophagus irregularis DAOM-181602 (total contigs?=?210), facilitated a discovery of repetitive elements with unusual characteristics. R. irregularis has only ten or 11 copies of complete 45S rDNAs, whereas the general eukaryotic genome has tens to thousands of rDNA copies. R. irregularis rDNAs are highly heterogeneous and lack a tandem repeat structure. These findings provide evidence for the hypothesis that rDNA heterogeneity depends on the lack of tandem repeat structures. RNA-Seq analysis confirmed that all rDNA variants…

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June 1, 2018

Parallels between experimental and natural evolution of legume symbionts.

The emergence of symbiotic interactions has been studied using population genomics in nature and experimental evolution in the laboratory, but the parallels between these processes remain unknown. Here we compare the emergence of rhizobia after the horizontal transfer of a symbiotic plasmid in natural populations of Cupriavidus taiwanensis, over 10 MY ago, with the experimental evolution of symbiotic Ralstonia solanacearum for a few hundred generations. In spite of major differences in terms of time span, environment, genetic background, and phenotypic achievement, both processes resulted in rapid genetic diversification dominated by purifying selection. We observe no adaptation in the plasmid carrying…

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June 1, 2018

Insect symbionts as valuable grist for the biotechnological mill: an alkaliphilic silkworm gut bacterium for efficient lactic acid production.

Insects constitute the most abundant and diverse animal class and act as hosts to an extraordinary variety of symbiotic microorganisms. These microbes living inside the insects play critical roles in host biology and are also valuable bioresources. Enterococcus mundtii EMB156, isolated from the larval gut (gut pH >10) of the model organism Bombyx mori (Lepidoptera: Bombycidae), efficiently produces lactic acid, an important metabolite for industrial production of bioplastic materials. E. mundtii EMB156 grows well under alkaline conditions and stably converts various carbon sources into lactic acid, offering advantages in downstream fermentative processes. High-yield lactic acid production can be achieved by…

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June 1, 2018

Recurrent symbiont recruitment from fungal parasites in cicadas.

Diverse insects are associated with ancient bacterial symbionts, whose genomes have often suffered drastic reduction and degeneration. In extreme cases, such symbiont genomes seem almost unable to sustain the basic cellular functioning, which comprises an open question in the evolution of symbiosis. Here, we report an insect group wherein an ancient symbiont lineage suffering massive genome erosion has experienced recurrent extinction and replacement by host-associated pathogenic microbes. Cicadas are associated with the ancient bacterial co-obligate symbionts Sulcia and Hodgkinia, whose streamlined genomes are specialized for synthesizing essential amino acids, thereby enabling the host to live on plant sap. However, our…

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May 25, 2018

Modeling trophic dependencies and exchanges among insects’ bacterial symbionts in a host-simulated environment.

Individual organisms are linked to their communities and ecosystems via metabolic activities. Metabolic exchanges and co-dependencies have long been suggested to have a pivotal role in determining community structure. In phloem-feeding insects such metabolic interactions with bacteria enable complementation of their deprived nutrition. The phloem-feeding whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) harbors an obligatory symbiotic bacterium, as well as varying combinations of facultative symbionts. This well-defined bacterial community in B. tabaci serves here as a case study for a comprehensive and systematic survey of metabolic interactions within the bacterial community and their associations with documented occurrences of bacterial combinations. We first…

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May 1, 2018

Male-killing toxin in a bacterial symbiont of Drosophila.

Several lineages of symbiotic bacteria in insects selfishly manipulate host reproduction to spread in a population 1 , often by distorting host sex ratios. Spiroplasma poulsonii2,3 is a helical and motile, Gram-positive symbiotic bacterium that resides in a wide range of Drosophila species 4 . A notable feature of S. poulsonii is male killing, whereby the sons of infected female hosts are selectively killed during development1,2. Although male killing caused by S. poulsonii has been studied since the 1950s, its underlying mechanism is unknown. Here we identify an S. poulsonii protein, designated Spaid, whose expression induces male killing. Overexpression of…

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May 1, 2018

Genomic changes associated with the evolutionary transitions of Nostoc to a plant symbiont.

Cyanobacteria belonging to the genus Nostoc comprise free-living strains and also facultative plant symbionts. Symbiotic strains can enter into symbiosis with taxonomically diverse range of host plants. Little is known about genomic changes associated with evolutionary transition of Nostoc from free-living to plant symbiont. Here, we compared the genomes derived from 11 symbiotic Nostoc strains isolated from different host plants and infer phylogenetic relationships between strains. Phylogenetic reconstructions of 89 Nostocales showed that symbiotic Nostoc strains with a broad host range, entering epiphytic and intracellular or extracellular endophytic interactions, form a monophyletic clade indicating a common evolutionary history. A polyphyletic…

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May 1, 2018

Coordinated regulation of core and accessory genes in the multipartite genome of Sinorhizobium fredii.

Prokaryotes benefit from having accessory genes, but it is unclear how accessory genes can be linked with the core regulatory network when developing adaptations to new niches. Here we determined hierarchical core/accessory subsets in the multipartite pangenome (composed of genes from the chromosome, chromid and plasmids) of the soybean microsymbiont Sinorhizobium fredii by comparing twelve Sinorhizobium genomes. Transcriptomes of two S. fredii strains at mid-log and stationary growth phases and in symbiotic conditions were obtained. The average level of gene expression, variation of expression between different conditions, and gene connectivity within the co-expression network were positively correlated with the gene…

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