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Sunday, September 22, 2019

A response to Lindsey et al. “Wolbachia pipientis should not be split into multiple species: A response to Ramírez-Puebla et al.”.

In Ramírez-Puebla et al. [18] we compared 34 Wolbachia genomes and constructed phylogenetic trees using genomic data. In general, our results were congruent with previously reported phy- logenetic trees [5,9]. Our datasets were carefully selected, checked and analyzed avoiding horizontally transferred genes. In the case of the wAna genome we did not use the raw data, but the assem- bled genome [22] and 31 genes were used to compare in a dataset of conserved proteins. To confirm our conclusions a new phyloge- nomic analysis was performed excluding the wAna strain in the dataset (Fig. 1). The same topology was obtained,…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Candidatus Dactylopiibacterium carminicum, a nitrogen-fixing symbiont of Dactylopius cochineal insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Dactylopiidae)

The domesticated carmine cochineal Dactylopius coccus (scale insect) has commercial value and has been used for more than 500?years for natural red pigment production. Besides the domesticated cochineal, other wild Dactylopius species such as Dactylopius opuntiae are found in the Americas, all feeding on nutrient poor sap from native cacti. To compensate nutritional deficiencies, many insects harbor symbiotic bacteria which provide essential amino acids or vitamins to their hosts. Here, we characterized a symbiont from the carmine cochineal insects, Candidatus Dactylopiibacterium carminicum (betaproteobacterium, Rhodocyclaceae family) and found it in D. coccus and in D. opuntiae ovaries by fluorescent in situ…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Laboratory colonization stabilizes the naturally dynamic microbiome composition of field collected Dermacentor andersoni ticks.

Nearly a quarter of emerging infectious diseases identified in the last century are arthropod-borne. Although ticks and insects can carry pathogenic microorganisms, non-pathogenic microbes make up the majority of their microbial communities. The majority of tick microbiome research has had a focus on discovery and description; very few studies have analyzed the ecological context and functional responses of the bacterial microbiome of ticks. The goal of this analysis was to characterize the stability of the bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks between generations and two populations within a species.The bacterial microbiome of D. andersoni midguts and salivary glands was analyzed…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Recent insights into the tick microbiome gained through next-generation sequencing.

The tick microbiome comprises communities of microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and eukaryotes, and is being elucidated through modern molecular techniques. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has enabled the genes and genomes within these microbial communities to be explored in a rapid and cost-effective manner. The advantages of using NGS to investigate microbiomes surpass the traditional non-molecular methods that are limited in their sensitivity, and conventional molecular approaches that are limited in their scalability. In recent years the number of studies using NGS to investigate the microbial diversity and composition of ticks has expanded. Here, we provide a review…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The gut commensal microbiome of Drosophila melanogaster is modified by the endosymbiont Wolbachia.

Endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria and the gut microbiome have independently been shown to affect several aspects of insect biology, including reproduction, development, life span, stem cell activity, and resistance to human pathogens, in insect vectors. This work shows that Wolbachia bacteria, which reside mainly in the fly germline, affect the microbial species present in the fly gut in a lab-reared strain. Drosophila melanogaster hosts two main genera of commensal bacteria-Acetobacter and Lactobacillus. Wolbachia-infected flies have significantly reduced titers of Acetobacter. Sampling of the microbiome of axenic flies fed with equal proportions of both bacteria shows that the presence of Wolbachia bacteria…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Culture-facilitated comparative genomics of the facultative symbiont Hamiltonella defensa.

Many insects host facultative, bacterial symbionts that confer conditional fitness benefits to their hosts. Hamiltonella defensa is a common facultative symbiont of aphids that provides protection against parasitoid wasps. Protection levels vary among strains of H. defensa that are also differentially infected by bacteriophages named APSEs. However, little is known about trait variation among strains because only one isolate has been fully sequenced. Generating complete genomes for facultative symbionts is hindered by relatively large genome sizes but low abundances in hosts like aphids that are very small. Here, we took advantage of methods for culturing H. defensa outside of aphids…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

In vitro culture of the insect endosymbiont Spiroplasma poulsonii highlights bacterial genes involved in host-symbiont interaction.

Endosymbiotic bacteria associated with eukaryotic hosts are omnipresent in nature, particularly in insects. Studying the bacterial side of host-symbiont interactions is, however, often limited by the unculturability and genetic intractability of the symbionts. Spiroplasma poulsonii is a maternally transmitted bacterial endosymbiont that is naturally associated with several Drosophila species. S. poulsonii strongly affects its host’s physiology, for example by causing male killing or by protecting it against various parasites. Despite intense work on this model since the 1950s, attempts to cultivate endosymbiotic Spiroplasma in vitro have failed so far. Here, we developed a method to sustain the in vitro culture of…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Comparative genomic insights into endofungal lifestyles of two bacterial endosymbionts, Mycoavidus cysteinexigens and Burkholderia rhizoxinica.

Endohyphal bacteria (EHB), dwelling within fungal hyphae, markedly affect the growth and metabolic potential of their hosts. To date, two EHB belonging to the family Burkholderiaceae have been isolated and characterized as new taxa, Burkholderia rhizoxinica (HKI 454T) and Mycoavidus cysteinexigens (B1-EBT), in Japan. Metagenome sequencing was recently reported for Mortierella elongata AG77 together with its endosymbiont M. cysteinexigens (Mc-AG77) from a soil/litter sample in the USA. In the present study, we elucidated the complete genome sequence of B1-EBT and compared it with those of Mc-AG77 and HKI 454T. The genomes of B1-EBT and Mc-AG77 contained a higher level of…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Challenges of Francisella classification exemplified by an atypical clinical isolate.

The accumulation of sequenced Francisella strains has made it increasingly apparent that the 16S rRNA gene alone is not enough to stratify the Francisella genus into precise and clinically useful classifications. Continued whole-genome sequencing of isolates will provide a larger base of knowledge for targeted approaches with broad applicability. Additionally, examination of genomic information on a case-by-case basis will help resolve outstanding questions regarding strain stratification. We report the complete genome sequence of a clinical isolate, designated here as F. novicida-like strain TCH2015, acquired from the lymph node of a 6-year-old male. Two features were atypical for F. novicida: exhibition…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The genome sequence of “Candidatus Fokinia solitaria”: Insights on reductive evolution in Rickettsiales.

Candidatus Fokinia solitaria is an obligate intracellular endosymbiont of a unicellular eukaryote, a ciliate of the genus Paramecium. Here, we present the genome sequence of this bacterium and subsequent analysis. Phylogenomic analysis confirmed the previously reported positioning of the symbiont within the “Candidatus Midichloriaceae” family (order Rickettsiales), as well as its high sequence divergence from other members of the family, indicative of fast sequence evolution. Consistently with this high evolutionary rate, a comparative genomic analysis revealed that the genome of this symbiont is the smallest of the Rickettsiales to date. The reduced genome does not present flagellar genes, nor the…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Enrichment of low-density symbiont DNA from minute insects.

Symbioses between bacteria and insects are often associated with changes in important biological traits that can significantly affect host fitness. To a large extent, studies of these interactions have been based on physiological changes or induced phenotypes in the host, and the genetic mechanisms by which symbionts interact with their hosts have only recently become better understood. Learning about symbionts has been challenging in part due to difficulties such as obtaining enough high quality genomic material for high throughput sequencing technology, especially for symbionts present in low titers, and in small or difficult to rear non-model hosts. Here we introduce…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Long-read whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis of six strains of the human pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi.

Orientia tsutsugamushi is a clinically important but neglected obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen of the Rickettsiaceae family that causes the potentially life-threatening human disease scrub typhus. In contrast to the genome reduction seen in many obligate intracellular bacteria, early genetic studies of Orientia have revealed one of the most repetitive bacterial genomes sequenced to date. The dramatic expansion of mobile elements has hampered efforts to generate complete genome sequences using short read sequencing methodologies, and consequently there have been few studies of the comparative genomics of this neglected species.We report new high-quality genomes of O. tsutsugamushi, generated using PacBio single molecule…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Genotype to phenotype: Diet-by-mitochondrial DNA haplotype interactions drive metabolic flexibility and organismal fitness.

Diet may be modified seasonally or by biogeographic, demographic or cultural shifts. It can differentially influence mitochondrial bioenergetics, retrograde signalling to the nuclear genome, and anterograde signalling to mitochondria. All these interactions have the potential to alter the frequencies of mtDNA haplotypes (mitotypes) in nature and may impact human health. In a model laboratory system, we fed four diets varying in Protein: Carbohydrate (P:C) ratio (1:2, 1:4, 1:8 and 1:16 P:C) to four homoplasmic Drosophila melanogaster mitotypes (nuclear genome standardised) and assayed their frequency in population cages. When fed a high protein 1:2 P:C diet, the frequency of flies harbouring…

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