New clues about the evolutionary history of metabolic losses in bacterial endosymbionts, provided by the genome of Buchnera aphidicola from the aphid Cinara tujafilina.
ABSTRACT: 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:Virtually all aphids (Aphididae) harbor Buchnera aphidicola as an obligate endosymbiont to compensate nutritional deficiencies arising from their phloem diet. Many species within the Lachninae subfamily seem to be consistently associated also with Serratia symbiotica We have previously shown that both Cinara (Cinara) cedri and Cinara (Cupressobium) tujafilina (Lachninae: Eulachnini tribe) have indeed established co-obligate associations with both Buchnera and S. symbiotica However, while Buchnera genomes of both Cinara species are similar, genome degradation differs greatly between the two S. symbiotica strains. To gain insight into the essentiality and degree of integration of S. symbiotica within the Lachninae, we sequenced the genome of both Buchnera and S. symbiotica endosymbionts from the distantly related aphid Tuberolachnus salignus (Lachninae: Tuberolachnini tribe). We found a striking level of similarity between the endosymbiotic system of this aphid and that of C. cedri In both aphid hosts, S. symbiotica possesses a highly reduced genome and is found exclusively intracellularly inside bacteriocytes. Interestingly, T. salignus' endosymbionts present the same tryptophan biosynthetic metabolic complementation as C. cedri's, which is not present in C. tujafilina's. Moreover, we corroborate the riboflavin-biosynthetic-role take-over/rescue by S. symbiotica in T. salignus, and therefore, provide further evidence for the previously proposed establishment of a secondary co-obligate endosymbiont in the common ancestor of the Lachninae aphids. Finally, we propose that the putative convergent split of the tryptophan biosynthetic role between Buchnera and S. symbiotica could be behind the establishment of S. symbiotica as an obligate intracellular symbiont and the triggering of further genome degradation.
Project description:Buchnera aphidicola BCc, the primary endosymbiont of the aphid Cinara cedri (subfamily Lachninae), is losing its symbiotic capacity and might be replaced by the coresident "Candidatus Serratia symbiotica." Phylogenetic and morphological analyses within the subfamily Lachninae indicate two different "Ca. Serratia symbiotica" lineages and support the longtime coevolution of both symbionts in C. cedri.
Project description:Particularly interesting cases of mutualistic endosymbioses come from the establishment of co-obligate associations of more than one species of endosymbiotic bacteria. Throughout symbiotic accommodation from a free-living bacterium, passing through a facultative stage and ending as an obligate intracellular one, the symbiont experiences massive genomic losses and phenotypic adjustments. Here, we scrutinized the changes in the coevolution of Serratia symbiotica and Buchnera aphidicola endosymbionts in aphids, paying particular attention to the transformations undergone by S. symbiotica to become an obligate endosymbiont. Although it is already known that S. symbiotica is facultative in Acyrthosiphon pisum, in Cinara cedri it has established a co-obligate endosymbiotic consortium along with B. aphidicola to fulfill the aphid's nutritional requirements. The state of this association in C. tujafilina, an aphid belonging to the same subfamily (Lachninae) that C. cedri, remained unknown. Here, we report the genome of S. symbiotica strain SCt-VLC from the aphid C. tujafilina. While being phylogenetically and genomically very closely related to the facultative endosymbiont S. symbiotica from the aphid A. pisum, it shows a variety of metabolic, genetic, and architectural features, which point toward this endosymbiont being one step closer to an obligate intracellular one. We also describe in depth the process of genome rearrangements suffered by S. symbiotica and the role mobile elements play in gene inactivations. Finally, we postulate the supply to the host of the essential riboflavin (vitamin B2) as key to the establishment of S. symbiotica as a co-obligate endosymbiont in the aphids belonging to the subfamily Lachninane.
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:Buchnera aphidicola BCc has lost its symbiotic role as the tryptophan supplier to the aphid Cinara cedri. We report the presence of a plasmid in this endosymbiont that contains the trpEG genes. The remaining genes for the pathway (trpDCBA) are located on the chromosome of the secondary endosymbiont "Candidatus Serratia symbiotica." Thus, we propose that a symbiotic consortium is necessary to provide tryptophan.
Project description:Symbiosis is a widespread phenomenon in nature, in which insects show a great number of these associations. Buchnera aphidicola, the obligate endosymbiont of aphids, coexists in some species with another intracellular bacterium, Serratia symbiotica. Of particular interest is the case of the cedar aphid Cinara cedri, where B. aphidicola BCc and S. symbiotica SCc need each other to fulfil their symbiotic role with the insect. Moreover, various features seem to indicate that S. symbiotica SCc is closer to an obligate endosymbiont than to other facultative S. symbiotica, such as the one described for the aphid Acirthosyphon pisum (S. symbiotica SAp). This work is based on the comparative genomics of five strains of Serratia, three free-living and two endosymbiotic ones (one facultative and one obligate) which should allow us to dissect the genome reduction taking place in the adaptive process to an intracellular life-style. Using a pan-genome approach, we have identified shared and strain-specific genes from both endosymbiotic strains and gained insight into the different genetic reduction both S. symbiotica have undergone. We have identified both retained and reduced functional categories in S. symbiotica compared to the Free-Living Serratia (FLS) that seem to be related with its endosymbiotic role in their specific host-symbiont systems. By means of a phylogenomic reconstruction we have solved the position of both endosymbionts with confidence, established the probable insect-pathogen origin of the symbiotic clade as well as the high amino-acid substitution rate in S. symbiotica SCc. Finally, we were able to quantify the minimal number of rearrangements suffered in the endosymbiotic lineages and reconstruct a minimal rearrangement phylogeny. All these findings provide important evidence for the existence of at least two distinctive S. symbiotica lineages that are characterized by different rearrangements, gene content, genome size and branch lengths.
Project description:Intracellular symbiosis is very common in the insect world. For the aphid Cinara cedri, we have identified by electron microscopy three symbiotic bacteria that can be characterized by their different sizes, morphologies, and electrodensities. PCR amplification and sequencing of the 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) genes showed that, in addition to harboring Buchnera aphidicola, the primary endosymbiont of aphids, C. cedri harbors a secondary symbiont (S symbiont) that was previously found to be associated with aphids (PASS, or R type) and an alpha-proteobacterium that belongs to the Wolbachia genus. Using in situ hybridization with specific bacterial probes designed for symbiont 16S rDNA sequences, we have shown that Wolbachia was represented by only a few minute bacteria surrounding the S symbionts. Moreover, the observed B. aphidicola and the S symbionts had similar sizes and were housed in separate specific bacterial cells, the bacteriocytes. Interestingly, in contrast to the case for all aphids examined thus far, the S symbionts were shown to occupy a similarly sized or even larger bacteriocyte space than B. aphidicola. These findings, along with the facts that C. cedri harbors the B. aphidicola strain with the smallest bacterial genome and that the S symbionts infect all Cinara spp. analyzed so far, suggest the possibility of bacterial replacement in these species.
Project description:Bacterial endosymbionts and their insect hosts establish an intimate metabolic relationship. Bacteria offer a variety of essential nutrients to their hosts, whereas insect cells provide the necessary sources of matter and energy to their tiny metabolic allies. These nutritional complementations sustain themselves on a diversity of metabolite exchanges between the cell host and the reduced yet highly specialized bacterial metabolism-which, for instance, overproduces a small set of essential amino acids and vitamins. A well-known case of metabolic complementation is provided by the cedar aphid Cinara cedri that harbors two co-primary endosymbionts, Buchnera aphidicola BCc and Ca. Serratia symbiotica SCc, and in which some metabolic pathways are partitioned between different partners. Here we present a genome-scale metabolic network (GEM) for the bacterial consortium from the cedar aphid iBSCc. The analysis of this GEM allows us the confirmation of cases of metabolic complementation previously described by genome analysis (i.e., tryptophan and biotin biosynthesis) and the redefinition of an event of metabolic pathway sharing between the two endosymbionts, namely the biosynthesis of tetrahydrofolate. In silico knock-out experiments with iBSCc showed that the consortium metabolism is a highly integrated yet fragile network. We also have explored the evolutionary pathways leading to the emergence of metabolic complementation between reduced metabolisms starting from individual, complete networks. Our results suggest that, during the establishment of metabolic complementation in endosymbionts, adaptive evolution is significant in the case of tryptophan biosynthesis, whereas vitamin production pathways seem to adopt suboptimal solutions.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Buchnera aphidicola is an obligate symbiotic bacterium, associated with most of the aphididae, whose genome has drastically shrunk during intracellular evolution. Gene regulation in Buchnera has been a matter of controversy in recent years as the combination of genomic information with the experimental results has been contradictory, refuting or arguing in favour of a functional and responsive transcription regulation in Buchnera.The goal of this study was to describe the gene transcription regulation capabilities of Buchnera based on the inventory of cis- and trans-regulators encoded in the genomes of five strains from different aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum, Schizaphis graminum, Baizongia pistacea, Cinara cedri and Cinara tujafilina), as well as on the characterisation of some intrinsic structural properties of the DNA molecule in these bacteria. RESULTS: Interaction graph analysis shows that gene neighbourhoods are conserved between E. coli and Buchnera in structures called transcriptons, interactons and metabolons, indicating that selective pressures have acted on the evolution of transcriptional, protein-protein interaction and metabolic networks in Buchnera. The transcriptional regulatory network in Buchnera is composed of a few general DNA-topological regulators (Nucleoid Associated Proteins and topoisomerases), with the quasi-absence of any specific ones (except for multifunctional enzymes with a known gene expression regulatory role in Escherichia coli, such as AlaS, PepA and BolA, and the uncharacterized hypothetical regulators YchA and YrbA). The relative positioning of regulatory genes along the chromosome of Buchnera seems to have conserved its ancestral state, despite the genome erosion. Sigma-70 promoters with canonical thermodynamic sequence profiles were detected upstream of about 94% of the CDS of Buchnera in the different aphids. Based on Stress-Induced Duplex Destabilization (SIDD) measurements, unstable ?70 promoters were found specifically associated with the regulator and transporter genes. CONCLUSIONS: This genomic analysis provides supporting evidence of a selection of functional regulatory structures and it has enabled us to propose hypotheses concerning possible links between these regulatory elements and the DNA-topology (i.e., supercoiling, curvature, flexibility and base-pair stability) in the regulation of gene expression in the shrunken genome of Buchnera.
Project description:Many aphids harbor a variety of endosymbiotic bacteria. The functions of these symbionts can range from an obligate nutritional role to a facultative role in protecting their hosts against environmental stresses. One such symbiont is "Candidatus Serratia symbiotica," which is involved in defense against heat and potentially also in aphid nutrition. Lachnid aphids have been the focus of several recent studies investigating the transition of this symbiont from a facultative symbiont to an obligate symbiont. In a phylogenetic analysis of Serratia symbionts from 51 lachnid hosts, we found that diversity in symbiont morphology, distribution, and function is due to multiple independent origins of symbiosis from ancestors belonging to Serratia and possibly also to evolution within distinct symbiont clades. Our results do not support cocladogenesis of "Ca. Serratia symbiotica" with Cinara subgenus Cinara species and weigh against an obligate nutritional role. Finally, we show that species belonging to the subfamily Lachninae have a high incidence of facultative symbiont infection.