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Cellular mechanism for selective vertical transmission of an obligate insect symbiont at the bacteriocyte-embryo interface.


ABSTRACT: Many insects are associated with obligate symbiotic bacteria, which are localized in specialized cells called bacteriocytes, vertically transmitted through host generations via ovarial passage, and essential for growth and reproduction of their hosts. Although vertical transmission is pivotal for maintenance of such intimate host-symbiont associations, molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the process are largely unknown. Here we report a cellular mechanism for vertical transmission of the obligate symbiont Buchnera in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. In the aphid body, Buchnera cells are transmitted from maternal bacteriocytes to adjacent blastulae at the ovariole tips in a highly coordinated manner. By making use of symbiont-manipulated strains of A. pisum, we demonstrated that the facultative symbiont Serratia is, unlike Buchnera, not transmitted from maternal bacteriocytes to blastulae, suggesting a specific mechanism for Buchnera transmission. EM observations revealed a series of exo-/endocytotic processes operating at the bacteriocyte-blastula interface: Buchnera cells are exocytosed from the maternal bacteriocyte, temporarily released to the extracellular space, and endocytosed by the posterior syncytial cytoplasm of the blastula. These results suggest that the selective Buchnera transmission is likely attributable to Buchnera-specific exocytosis by the maternal bacteriocyte, whereas both Buchnera and Serratia are nonselectively incorporated by the endocytotic activity of the posterior region of the blastula. The sophisticated cellular mechanism for vertical transmission of Buchnera must have evolved to ensure the obligate host-symbiont association, whereas facultative symbionts like Serratia may coopt the endocytotic component of the mechanism for their entry into the host embryos.

SUBMITTER: Koga R 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3356617 | BioStudies | 2012-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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