Costs and benefits of symbiont infection in aphids: variation among symbionts and across temperatures.
ABSTRACT: Symbiosis is prevalent throughout the tree of life and has had a significant impact on the ecology and evolution of many bacteria and eukaryotes. The benevolence of symbiotic interactions often varies with the environment, and such variation is expected to play an important role in shaping the prevalence and distributions of symbiosis throughout nature. In this study, we examine how the fitness of aphids is influenced by infection with one of three maternally transmitted bacteria, 'Candidatus Serratia symbiotica', 'Candidatus Hamiltonella defensa' and 'Candidatus Regiella insecticola', addressing how symbiont benevolence varies with temperature. We find that the effects of these 'secondary' symbionts on Acyrthosiphon pisum depend on when and whether aphids are exposed to a brief period of heat shock. We also demonstrate that symbionts--even closely related isolates--vary in their effects on hosts. Our results indicate similar effects of S. symbiotica and H. defensa in conferring tolerance to high temperatures and a liability of R. insecticola under these same conditions. These findings reveal a role for heritable symbionts in the adaptation of aphids to their abiotic environments and add to an expanding body of knowledge on the adaptive significance of symbiosis.
Project description:Ecological studies on three bacterial lineages symbiotic in aphids have shown that they impose a variety of effects on their hosts, including resistance to parasitoids and tolerance to heat stress. Phylogenetic analyses of partial sequences of gyrB and recA are consistent with previous analyses limited to 16S rRNA gene sequences and yield improved confidence of the evolutionary relationships of these symbionts. All three symbionts are in the Enterobacteriaceae. One of the symbionts, here given the provisional designation "Candidatus Serratia symbiotica," is a Serratia species that has acquired a symbiotic lifestyle. The other two symbionts, here designated "Candidatus Hamiltonella defensa" and "Candidatus Regiella insecticola," are sister groups to one another and together show a relationship to species of Photorhabdus.
Project description:Animal-associated microbes are highly variable, contributing to a diverse set of symbiont-mediated phenotypes. Given that host and symbiont genotypes, and their interactions, can impact symbiont-based phenotypes across environments, there is potential for extensive variation in fitness outcomes. Pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum, host a diverse assemblage of heritable facultative symbionts (HFS) with characterized roles in host defense. Protective phenotypes have been largely studied as single infections, but pea aphids often carry multiple HFS species, and particular combinations may be enriched or depleted compared to expectations based on chance. Here, we examined the consequences of single infection versus coinfection with two common HFS exhibiting variable enrichment, the antiparasitoid Hamiltonella defensa and the antipathogen Regiella insecticola, across three host genotypes and environments. As expected, single infections with either H. defensa or R. insecticola raised defenses against their respective targets. Single infections with protective H. defensa lowered aphid fitness in the absence of enemy challenge, while R. insecticola was comparatively benign. However, as a coinfection, R. insecticola ameliorated H. defensa infection costs. Coinfected aphids continued to receive antiparasitoid protection from H. defensa, but protection was weakened by R. insecticola in two clones. Notably, H. defensa eliminated survival benefits conferred after pathogen exposure by coinfecting R. insecticola Since pathogen sporulation was suppressed by R. insecticola in coinfected aphids, the poor performance likely stemmed from H. defensa-imposed costs rather than weakened defenses. Our results reveal a complex set of coinfection outcomes which may partially explain natural infection patterns and suggest that symbiont-based phenotypes may not be easily predicted based solely on infection status.IMPORTANCE The hyperdiverse arthropods often harbor maternally transmitted bacteria that protect against natural enemies. In many species, low-diversity communities of heritable symbionts are common, providing opportunities for cooperation and conflict among symbionts, which can impact the defensive services rendered. Using the pea aphid, a model for defensive symbiosis, we show that coinfections with two common defensive symbionts, the antipathogen Regiella and the antiparasite Hamiltonella, produce outcomes that are highly variable compared to single infections, which consistently protect against designated enemies. Compared to single infections, coinfections often reduced defensive services during enemy challenge yet improved aphid fitness in the absence of enemies. Thus, infection with multiple symbionts does not necessarily create generalist aphids with "Swiss army knife" defenses against numerous enemies. Instead, particular combinations of symbionts may be favored for a variety of reasons, including their abilities to lessen the costs of other defensive symbionts when enemies are not present.
Project description:Study of the mutualistic associations between facultative symbionts and aphids are developed only in a few models. That survey on the situation and distribution of the symbionts in a certain area is helpful to obtain clues for the acquisition and spread of them as well as their roles played in host evolution. To understand the infection patterns of seven facultative symbionts (Serratia symbiotica, Hamiltonella defensa, Regiella insecticola, Rickettsia, Spiroplasma, Wolbachia, and Arsenophonus) in Rhopalosiphum padi (Linnaeus) and Rhopalosiphum maidis (Fitch), we collected 882 R. maidis samples (37 geographical populations) from China and 585 R. padi samples (32 geographical populations) from China and Europe. Results showed that both species were widely infected with various symbionts and totally 50.8% of R. maidis and 50.1% of R. padi were multi-infected with targeted symbionts. However, very few Rhopalosiphum aphids were infected with S. symbiotica. The infection frequencies of some symbionts were related to the latitude of collecting sites, suggesting the importance of environmental factors in shaping the geographic distribution of facultative symbionts. Also, R. maidis and R. padi were infected with different H. defensa strains based on phylogenetic analysis which may be determined by host ×symbiont genotype interactions. According to our results, the ubiquitous symbionts may play important roles in the evolution of their host aphid and their impacts on adaptation of R. padi and R. maidis were discussed as well.
Project description:Heritable symbionts are common in terrestrial arthropods and often provide beneficial services to hosts. Unlike obligate, nutritional symbionts that largely persist under strict host control within specialized host cells, heritable facultative symbionts exhibit large variation in within-host lifestyles and services rendered with many retaining the capacity to transition among roles. One enigmatic symbiont, Candidatus Fukatsuia symbiotica, frequently infects aphids with reported roles ranging from pathogen, defensive symbiont, mutualism exploiter, and nutritional co-obligate symbiont. Here, we used an in vitro culture-assisted protocol to sequence the genome of a facultative strain of Fukatsuia from pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum). Phylogenetic and genomic comparisons indicate that Fukatsuia is an aerobic heterotroph, which together with Regiella insecticola and Hamiltonella defensa form a clade of heritable facultative symbionts within the Yersiniaceae (Enterobacteriales). These three heritable facultative symbionts largely share overlapping inventories of genes associated with housekeeping functions, metabolism, and nutrient acquisition, while varying in complements of mobile DNA. One unusual feature of Fukatsuia is its strong tendency to occur as a coinfection with H. defensa. However, the overall similarity of gene inventories among aphid heritable facultative symbionts suggests that metabolic complementarity is not the basis for coinfection, unless playing out on a H. defensa strain-specific basis. We also compared the pea aphid Fukatsuia with a strain from the aphid Cinara confinis (Lachninae) where it is reported to have transitioned to co-obligate status to support decaying Buchnera function. Overall, the two genomes are very similar with no clear genomic signatures consistent with such a transition, which suggests co-obligate status in C. confinis was a recent event.
Project description:Legumes can meet their nitrogen requirements through root nodule symbiosis, which could also trigger plant systemic resistance against pests. The pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, a legume pest, can harbour different facultative symbionts (FS) influencing various traits of their hosts. It is therefore worth determining if and how the symbionts of the plant and the aphid modulate their interaction. We used different pea aphid lines without FS or with a single one (Hamiltonella defensa, Regiella insecticola, Serratia symbiotica) to infest Medicago truncatula plants inoculated with Sinorhizobium meliloti (symbiotic nitrogen fixation, SNF) or supplemented with nitrate (non-inoculated, NI). The growth of SNF and NI plants was reduced by aphid infestation, while aphid weight (but not survival) was lowered on SNF compared to NI plants. Aphids strongly affected the plant nitrogen fixation depending on their symbiotic status, suggesting indirect relationships between aphid- and plant-associated microbes. Finally, all aphid lines triggered expression of Pathogenesis-Related Protein 1 (PR1) and Proteinase Inhibitor (PI), respective markers for salicylic and jasmonic pathways, in SNF plants, compared to only PR1 in NI plants. We demonstrate that the plant symbiotic status influences plant-aphid interactions while that of the aphid can modulate the amplitude of the plant's defence response.
Project description:Regiella insecticola is a bacterial endosymbiont in insects that exhibits a negative effect on the fitness of hosts. Thus, it is not clear why this costly endosymbiont can persist in host populations. Here, we tested a hypothesis that the infection pattern and negative roles of the endosymbiont were not constant but environmentally dependent. The grain aphids Sitobion avenae, belonging to different genotypes and infected with Regiella or not, were used in this study. We found that S. avenae populations were infected with Regiella, Hamiltonella defensa, Serratia symbiotica and Rickettsia. The predominant endosymbionts in the aphid populations varied with season. Serratia and Rickettsia were predominant from December to February while Regiella predominated from March to May. The vertical transmission of Regiella was poorer at high temperature, but following conditioning for seven generations, the transmission rate improved. Regiella inhibited the production of winged aphids at 25?°C, but it did not affect winged morph production at the higher temperatures of 28?°C and 31?°C. Regiella infection decreased the intrinsic rate of increase (rm) of aphids at 25?°C and 28?°C. However, at 31?°C, the effect of Regiella on the rm varied depending on the aphid genotype and density. Thus, the negative effects of this endosymbiont on its host were environmentally dependent.
Project description:Aphids are sap-feeding insects that host a range of bacterial endosymbionts including the obligate, nutritional mutualist Buchnera plus several bacteria that are not required for host survival. Among the latter, 'Candidatus Regiella insecticola' and 'Candidatus Hamiltonella defensa' are found in pea aphids and other hosts and have been shown to protect aphids from natural enemies. We have sequenced almost the entire genome of R. insecticola (2.07 Mbp) and compared it with the recently published genome of H.?defensa (2.11 Mbp). Despite being sister species the two genomes are highly rearranged and the genomes only have ?55% of genes in common. The functions encoded by the shared genes imply that the bacteria have similar metabolic capabilities, including only two essential amino acid biosynthetic pathways and active uptake mechanisms for the remaining eight, and similar capacities for host cell toxicity and invasion (type 3 secretion systems and RTX toxins). These observations, combined with high sequence divergence of orthologues, strongly suggest an ancient divergence after establishment of a symbiotic lifestyle. The divergence in gene sets and in genome architecture implies a history of rampant recombination and gene inactivation and the ongoing integration of mobile DNA (insertion sequence elements, prophage and plasmids).
Project description:Aphids commonly harbour facultative bacterial endosymbionts and may benefit from their presence through increased resistance to parasitoids. This has been demonstrated for Hamiltonella defensa and Serratia symbiotica, while a third common endosymbiont, Regiella insecticola, did not provide such protection. However, this symbiont was recently detected in a highly resistant clone of the peach-potato aphid, Myzus persicae, from Australia. To test if resistance was indeed conferred by the endosymbiont, we eliminated it from this clone with antibiotics, and we transferred it to two other clones of the same and one clone of a different aphid species (Aphis fabae). Exposing these lines to the parasitoid Aphidius colemani showed clearly that unlike other strains of this bacterium, this specific isolate of R. insecticola provides strong protection against parasitic wasps, suggesting that the ability to protect their host against natural enemies may evolve readily in multiple species of endosymbiotic bacteria.
Project description:Eukaryotes commonly host communities of heritable symbiotic bacteria, many of which are not essential for their hosts' survival and reproduction. There is laboratory evidence that these facultative symbionts can provide useful adaptations, such as increased resistance to natural enemies. However, we do not know how symbionts affect host fitness when the latter are subject to attack by a natural suite of parasites and pathogens. Here, we test whether two protective symbionts, Regiella insecticola and Hamiltonella defensa, increase the fitness of their host, the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum), under natural conditions. We placed experimental populations of two pea aphid lines, each with and without symbionts, in five wet meadow sites to expose them to a natural assembly of enemy species. The aphids were then retrieved and mortality from parasitoids, fungal pathogens and other causes assessed. We found that both Regiella and Hamiltonella reduce the proportion of aphids killed by the specific natural enemies against which they have been shown to protect in laboratory and cage experiments. However, this advantage was nullified (Hamiltonella) or reversed (Regiella) by an increase in mortality from other natural enemies and by the cost of carrying the symbiont. Symbionts therefore affect community structure by altering the relative success of different natural enemies. Our results show that protective symbionts are not necessarily advantageous to their hosts, and may even behave more like parasites than mutualists. Nevertheless, bacterial symbionts may play an important role in determining food web structure and dynamics.
Project description:The evolution of herbivore-host plant specialization requires low levels of gene flow between populations on alternate plant species. Accordingly, selection for host plant specialization is most effective when genotypes have minimal exposure to, and few mating opportunities with individuals from, alternate habitats. Maternally transmitted bacterial symbionts are common in insect herbivores and can influence host fecundity under a variety of conditions. Symbiont-mediated effects on host life-history strategies, however, are largely unknown. Here, we show that the facultative bacterial symbiont Candidatus Regiella insecticola strikingly alters both dispersal and mating in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. Pea aphids containing Regiella produced only half the number of winged offspring in response to crowding and, for two out of three aphid lineages, altered the timing of sexual reproduction in response to conditions mimicking seasonal changes, than did aphids lacking Regiella. These symbiont-associated changes in dispersal and mating are likely to have played a key role in the initiation of genetic differentiation and in the evolution of pea aphid-host plant specialization. As symbionts are widespread in insects, symbiont-induced life history changes may have promoted specialization, and potentially speciation, in many organisms.