Metabolic modeling of endosymbiont genome reduction on a temporal scale.
ABSTRACT: A fundamental challenge in Systems Biology is whether a cell-scale metabolic model can predict patterns of genome evolution by realistically accounting for associated biochemical constraints. Here, we study the order in which genes are lost in an in silico evolutionary process, leading from the metabolic network of Escherichia coli to that of the endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola. We examine how this order correlates with the order by which the genes were actually lost, as estimated from a phylogenetic reconstruction. By optimizing this correlation across the space of potential growth and biomass conditions, we compute an upper bound estimate on the model's prediction accuracy (R=0.54). The model's network-based predictive ability outperforms predictions obtained using genomic features of individual genes, reflecting the effect of selection imposed by metabolic stoichiometric constraints. Thus, while the timing of gene loss might be expected to be a completely stochastic evolutionary process, remarkably, we find that metabolic considerations, on their own, make a marked 40% contribution to determining when such losses occur.
Project description:The genome sequencing of Buchnera aphidicola BCc from the aphid Cinara cedri, which is the smallest known Buchnera genome, revealed that this bacterium had lost its symbiotic role, as it was not able to synthesize tryptophan and riboflavin. Moreover, the biosynthesis of tryptophan is shared with the endosymbiont Serratia symbiotica SCc, which coexists with B. aphidicola in this aphid. The whole-genome sequencing of S. symbiotica SCc reveals an endosymbiont in a stage of genome reduction that is closer to an obligate endosymbiont, such as B. aphidicola from Acyrthosiphon pisum, than to another S. symbiotica, which is a facultative endosymbiont in this aphid, and presents much less gene decay. The comparison between both S. symbiotica enables us to propose an evolutionary scenario of the transition from facultative to obligate endosymbiont. Metabolic inferences of B. aphidicola BCc and S. symbiotica SCc reveal that most of the functions carried out by B. aphidicola in A. pisum are now either conserved in B. aphidicola BCc or taken over by S. symbiotica. In addition, there are several cases of metabolic complementation giving functional stability to the whole consortium and evolutionary preservation of the actors involved.
Project description:Symbiotic interactions between organisms create new ecological niches. For example, many insects survive on plant-sap with the aid of maternally transmitted bacterial symbionts that provision essential nutrients lacking in this diet. Symbiotic partners often enter a long-term relationship in which the co-evolutionary fate of lineages is interdependent. Obligate symbionts that are strictly maternally transmitted experience genetic drift and genome degradation, compromising symbiont function and reducing host fitness unless hosts can compensate for these deficits. One evolutionary solution is the acquisition of a novel symbiont with a functionally intact genome. Whereas almost all aphids host the anciently acquired bacterial endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola (Gammaproteobacteria), Geopemphigus species have lost Buchnera and instead contain a maternally transmitted symbiont closely related to several known insect symbionts from the bacterial phylum Bacteroidetes. A complete genome sequence shows the symbiont has lost many ancestral genes, resulting in a genome size intermediate between that of free-living and symbiotic Bacteroidetes. The Geopemphigus symbiont retains biosynthetic pathways for amino acids and vitamins, as in Buchnera and other insect symbionts. This case of evolutionary replacement of Buchnera provides an opportunity to further understand the evolution and functional genomics of symbiosis.
Project description:Since the establishment of the symbiosis between the ancestor of modern aphids and their primary endosymbiont, Buchnera aphidicola, insects and bacteria have coevolved. Due to this parallel evolution, the analysis of bacterial genomic features constitutes a useful tool to understand their evolutionary history. Here we report, based on data from B. aphidicola, the molecular evolutionary analysis, the phylogenetic relationships among lineages and a comparison of sequence evolutionary rates of symbionts of four aphid species from three subfamilies. Our results support previous hypotheses of divergence of B. aphidicola and their host lineages during the early Cretaceous and indicate a closer relationship between subfamilies Eriosomatinae and Lachninae than with the Aphidinae. They also reveal a general evolutionary pattern among strains at the functional level. We also point out the effect of lifecycle and generation time as a possible explanation for the accelerated rate in B. aphidicola from the Lachninae.
Project description:Endosymbiosis with microorganisms is common in insects, with more than 10% of species requiring the metabolic capabilities of intracellular bacteria for their nutrient acquisition. Aphids harbor an obligate mutualism with the vertically transferred endosymbiont, Buchnera aphidicola, which produces key nutrients lacking in the aphid's phloem-based diet that are necessary for normal development and reproduction. It is thought that, in some groups of insects, bacterial symbionts may play key roles in biotype evolution against host-plant resistance. The genome of Buchnera has been sequenced in several aphid strains but little genomic data is currently available for the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines), one of the most important pests of soybean in North America. In this study, DNA sequencing was used to assemble and annotate the genome sequence of the Buchnera A. glycines strain and to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships among different strains. In addition, we identified several fixed Buchnera SNPs between Aphis glycines biotypes that were avirulent or virulent to a soybean aphid resistance gene (Rag1). The results of this study describe the genetic and evolutionary relationships of the Buchnera A. glycines strain, and begin to define the roles of an aphid symbiont in host-plant resistance.
Project description:Buchnera aphidicola is an obligate symbiotic bacterium that sustains the physiology of aphids by complementing their exclusive phloem sap diet. In this study, we reappraised the transport function of different Buchnera strains, from the aphids Acyrthosiphon pisum, Schizaphis graminum, Baizongia pistaciae and Cinara cedri, using the re-annotation of their transmembrane proteins coupled with an exploration of their metabolic networks. Although metabolic analyses revealed high interdependencies between the host and the bacteria, we demonstrate here that transport in Buchnera is assured by low transporter diversity, when compared to free-living bacteria, being mostly based on a few general transporters, some of which probably have lost their substrate specificity. Moreover, in the four strains studied, an astonishing lack of inner-membrane importers was observed. In Buchnera, the transport function has been shaped by the distinct selective constraints occurring in the Aphididae lineages. Buchnera from A. pisum and S. graminum have a three-membraned system and similar sets of transporters corresponding to most compound classes. Transmission electronic microscopic observations and confocal microscopic analysis of intracellular pH fields revealed that Buchnera does not show any of the typical structures and properties observed in integrated organelles. Buchnera from B. pistaciae seem to possess a unique double membrane system and has, accordingly, lost all of its outer-membrane integral proteins. Lastly, Buchnera from C. cedri revealed an extremely poor repertoire of transporters, with almost no ATP-driven active transport left, despite the clear persistence of the ancestral three-membraned system.
Project description:The symbiotic association between aphids (Homoptera) and Buchnera aphidicola (Gammaproteobacteria) started about 100 to 200 million years ago. As a consequence of this relationship, the bacterial genome has undergone a prominent size reduction. The downsize genome process starts when the bacterium enters the host and will probably end with its extinction and replacement by another healthier bacterium or with the establishment of metabolic complementation between two or more bacteria. Nowadays, several complete genomes of Buchnera aphidicola from four different aphid species (Acyrthosiphon pisum, Schizaphis graminum, Baizongia pistacea, and Cinara cedri) have been fully sequenced. C. cedri belongs to the subfamily Lachninae and harbors two coprimary bacteria that fulfill the metabolic needs of the whole consortium: B. aphidicola with the smallest genome reported so far and "Candidatus Serratia symbiotica." In addition, Cinara tujafilina, another member of the subfamily Lachninae, closely related to C. cedri, also harbors "Ca. Serratia symbiotica" but with a different phylogenetic status than the one from C. cedri. In this study, we present the complete genome sequence of B. aphidicola from C. tujafilina and the phylogenetic analysis and comparative genomics with the other Buchnera genomes. Furthermore, the gene repertoire of the last common ancestor has been inferred, and the evolutionary history of the metabolic losses that occurred in the different lineages has been analyzed. Although stochastic gene loss plays a role in the genome reduction process, it is also clear that metabolism, as a functional constraint, is also a powerful evolutionary force in insect endosymbionts.
Project description:Obligate symbiotic associations are present in a wide variety of animals with a nutrient-restricted diet. Aphids (hemiptera: Aphididae) almost-universally host Buchnera aphidicola bacteria in specialised organs (called bacteriomes). These bacteria supply the aphid with essential nutrients lacking from their diet (i.e. essential amino acids and some B vitamins). Some aphid lineages, such as species from the Lacninae subfamily, have evolved co-obligate associations with secondary endosymbionts, deriving from a loss of biotin- and riboflavin-biosynthetic genes. In this study, I re-analyse previously published sequencing data from the banana aphid Pentalonia nigronervosa. I show that the metabolic inference results from De Clerck et al. (Microbiome 3:63, 2015) are incorrect and possibly arise from the use of inadequate methods. Additionally, I discuss how the seemingly biased interpretation of their antibiotic treatment analyses together with an incorrect genome-based metabolic inference resulted in the erroneous suggestion "that a co-obligatory symbiosis between B. aphidicola and Wolbachia occurs in the banana aphid".
Project description:In Buchnera aphidicola strains associated with the aphid subfamilies Thelaxinae, Lachninae, Pterocommatinae, and Aphidinae, the four leucine genes (leuA, -B, -C, and -D) are located on a plasmid. However, these genes are located on the main chromosome in B. aphidicola strains associated with the subfamilies Pemphiginae and Chaitophorinae. The sequence of the chromosomal fragment containing the leucine cluster and flanking genes has different positions in the chromosome in B. aphidicola strains associated with three tribes of the subfamily Pemphiginae and one tribe of the subfamily Chaitophorinae. Due to the extreme gene order conservation of the B. aphidicola genomes, the variability in the position of the leucine cluster in the chromosome may be interpreted as resulting from independent insertions from an ancestral plasmid-borne leucine gene. These findings do not support a chromosomal origin for the leucine genes in the ancestral B. aphidicola and do support a back transfer evolutionary scenario from a plasmid to the main chromosome.
Project description:Buchnera aphidicola, the prokaryotic endosymbiont of aphids, complements dietary deficiencies with the synthesis and provision of several essential amino acids. We have cloned and sequenced a region of the genome of B. aphidicola isolated from Acyrthosiphon pisum which includes the two-domain aroQ/pheA gene. This gene encodes the bifunctional chorismate mutase-prephenate dehydratase protein, which plays a central role in L-phenylalanine biosynthesis. Two changes involved in the overproduction of this amino acid have been detected. First, the absence of an attenuator region suggests a constitutive expression of this gene. Second, the regulatory domain of the Buchnera prephenate dehydratase shows changes in the ESRP sequence, which is involved in the allosteric binding of phenylalanine and is strongly conserved in prephenate dehydratase proteins from practically all known organisms. These changes suggest the desensitization of the enzyme to inhibition by phenylalanine and would permit the bacterial endosymbiont to overproduce phenylalanine.
Project description:An 8.5-kb plasmid encoding genes (leuABCD) involved in leucine biosynthesis and a small plasmid of 1.74 kb of yet unknown function were found in the intracellular symbiont, Buchnera aphidicola, of two divergent aphid species, Thelaxes suberi and Tetraneura caerulescens, respectively. The leuABCD-carrying plasmid (pBTs1) was amplified from total aphid DNA by inverse long PCR, using outwardly oriented oligonucleotide primers specific to leuA. The resulting 8.2-kb PCR fragment as well as the 1.74-kb plasmid (pBTc1) were cloned and sequenced. pBTs1 differed from a previously described B. aphidicola plasmid (pRPE) of the aphid Rhopalosiphum padi by the presence of a small heat shock gene (ibp) and in the order of the leuABCD and repA genes. Comparison of both leucine plasmids to the small plasmid pBTc1 revealed extensive similarity with respect to putative replication functions as well as in the presence of a highly conserved open reading frame that was found to be homologous to Escherichia coli YqhA and Haemophilus influenzae HI0507 and which may encode an integral membrane protein. The three B. aphidicola plasmids most likely evolved from a common ancestral replicon, which in turn may be distantly related to IncFII plasmids. Phylogenetic affiliations of the B. aphidicola strains of the two aphid species were assessed by sequencing of their 16S rRNA genes. Evaluation of the distribution of the leuABCD-encoding plasmids within a phylogenetic framework suggests independent origins for pBTs1 and pRPE from an ancestral replicon resembling pBTc1. The implications for symbiotic essential amino acid biosynthesis and provisioning are discussed.