The combined effects of bacterial symbionts and aging on life history traits in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum.
ABSTRACT: While many endosymbionts have beneficial effects on hosts under specific ecological conditions, there can also be associated costs. In order to maximize their own fitness, hosts must facilitate symbiont persistence while preventing symbiont exploitation of resources, which may require tight regulation of symbiont populations. As a host ages, the ability to invest in such mechanisms may lessen or be traded off with demands of other life history traits, such as survival and reproduction. Using the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, we measured survival, lifetime fecundity, and immune cell counts (hemocytes, a measure of immune capacity) in the presence of facultative secondary symbionts. Additionally, we quantified the densities of the obligate primary bacterial symbiont, Buchnera aphidicola, and secondary symbionts across the host's lifetime. We found life history costs to harboring some secondary symbiont species. Secondary symbiont populations were found to increase with host age, while Buchnera populations exhibited a more complicated pattern. Immune cell counts peaked at the midreproductive stage before declining in the oldest aphids. The combined effects of immunosenescence and symbiont population growth may have important consequences for symbiont transmission and maintenance within a host population.
Project description:Aphids live in symbiosis with a variety of bacteria, including the obligate symbiont Buchnera aphidicola and diverse facultative symbionts. The symbiotic associations for one aphid species, especially for polyphagous species, often differ across populations. In the present study, by using high-throughput 16S rRNA sequencing, we surveyed in detail the microbiota in natural populations of the cotton aphid Aphis gossypii in China and assessed differences in bacterial diversity with respect to host plant and geography. The microbial community of A. gossypii was dominated by a few heritable symbionts. Arsenophonus was the most dominant secondary symbiont, and Spiroplasma was detected for the first time. Statistical tests and ordination analyses showed that host plants rather than geography seemed to have shaped the associated symbiont composition. Special symbiont communities inhabited the Cucurbitaceae-feeding populations, which supported the ecological specialization of A. gossypii on cucurbits from the viewpoint of symbiotic bacteria. Correlation analysis suggested antagonistic interactions between Buchnera and coexisting secondary symbionts and more complicated interactions between different secondary symbionts. Our findings lend further support to an important role of the host plant in structuring symbiont communities of polyphagous aphids and will improve our understanding of the interactions among phytophagous insects, symbionts, and environments.
Project description:Symbiosis is a ubiquitous phenomenon generating biological complexity, affecting adaptation, and expanding ecological capabilities. However, symbionts, which can be subject to genetic limitations such as clonality and genomic degradation, also impose constraints on hosts. A model of obligate symbiosis is that between aphids and the bacterium Buchnera aphidicola, which supplies essential nutrients. We report a mutation in Buchnera of the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum that recurs in laboratory lines and occurs in field populations. This single nucleotide deletion affects a homopolymeric run within the heat-shock transcriptional promoter for ibpA, encoding a small heat-shock protein. This Buchnera mutation virtually eliminates the transcriptional response of ibpA to heat stress and lowers its expression even at cool or moderate temperatures. Furthermore, this symbiont mutation dramatically affects host fitness in a manner dependent on thermal environment. Following a short heat exposure as juveniles, aphids bearing short-allele symbionts produced few or no progeny and contained almost no Buchnera, in contrast to aphids bearing symbionts without the deletion. Conversely, under constant cool conditions, aphids containing symbionts with the short allele reproduced earlier and maintained higher reproductive rates. The short allele has appreciable frequencies in field populations (up to 20%), further supporting the view that lowering of ibpA expression improves host fitness under some conditions. This recurring Buchnera mutation governs thermal tolerance of aphid hosts. Other cases in which symbiont microevolution has a major effect on host ecological tolerance are likely to be widespread because of the high mutation rates of symbiotic bacteria and their crucial roles in host metabolism and development.
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:Symbioses between animals and microbes are often described as mutualistic, but are subject to tradeoffs that may manifest as shifts in host and symbiont metabolism, cellular processes, or symbiont density. In pea aphids, the bacterial symbiont Buchnera is confined to specialized aphid cells called bacteriocytes, where it produces essential amino acids needed by hosts. This relationship is dynamic; Buchnera titer varies within individual aphids and among different clonal aphid lineages, and is affected by environmental and host genetic factors. We examined how host genotypic variation relates to host and symbiont function among seven aphid clones differing in Buchnera titer. We found that bacteriocyte gene expression varies among individual aphids and among aphid clones, and that Buchnera gene expression changes in response. By comparing hosts with low and high Buchnera titer, we found that aphids and Buchnera oppositely regulate genes underlying amino acid biosynthesis and cell growth. In high-titer hosts, both bacteriocytes and symbionts show elevated expression of genes underlying energy metabolism. Several eukaryotic cell signaling pathways are differentially expressed in bacteriocytes of low- versus high-titer hosts: Cell-growth pathways are up-regulated in low-titer genotypes, while membrane trafficking, lysosomal processes, and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) and cytokine pathways are up-regulated in high-titer genotypes. Specific Buchnera functions are up-regulated within different bacteriocyte environments, with genes underlying flagellar body secretion and flagellar assembly overexpressed in low- and high-titer hosts, respectively. Overall, our results reveal allowances and demands made by both host and symbiont engaged in a metabolic "tug-of-war."
Project description:Many eukaryotes have obligate associations with microorganisms that are transmitted directly between generations. A model for heritable symbiosis is the association of aphids, a clade of sap-feeding insects, and Buchnera aphidicola, a gammaproteobacterium that colonized an aphid ancestor 150 million years ago and persists in almost all 5,000 aphid species. Symbiont acquisition enables evolutionary and ecological expansion; aphids are one of many insect groups that would not exist without heritable symbiosis. Receiving less attention are potential negative ramifications of symbiotic alliances. In the short run, symbionts impose metabolic costs. Over evolutionary time, hosts evolve dependence beyond the original benefits of the symbiosis. Symbiotic partners enter into an evolutionary spiral that leads to irreversible codependence and associated risks. Host adaptations to symbiosis (e.g., immune-system modification) may impose vulnerabilities. Symbiont genomes also continuously accumulate deleterious mutations, limiting their beneficial contributions and environmental tolerance. Finally, the fitness interests of obligate heritable symbionts are distinct from those of their hosts, leading to selfish tendencies. Thus, genes underlying the host-symbiont interface are predicted to follow a coevolutionary arms race, as observed for genes governing host-pathogen interactions. On the macroevolutionary scale, the rapid evolution of interacting symbiont and host genes is predicted to accelerate host speciation rates by generating genetic incompatibilities. However, degeneration of symbiont genomes may ultimately limit the ecological range of host species, potentially increasing extinction risk. Recent results for the aphid-Buchnera symbiosis and related systems illustrate that, whereas heritable symbiosis can expand ecological range and spur diversification, it also presents potential perils.
Project description:Some bacterial symbionts alter their hosts reproduction through various mechanisms that enhance their transmission in the host population. In addition to its obligatory symbiont Buchnera aphidicola, the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum harbors several facultative symbionts influencing several aspects of host ecology. Aphids reproduce by cyclical parthenogenesis whereby clonal and sexual reproduction alternate within the annual life cycle. Many species, including the pea aphid, also show variation in their reproductive mode at the population level, with some lineages reproducing by cyclical parthenogenesis and others by permanent parthenogenesis. While the role of facultative symbionts has been well studied during the parthenogenetic phase of their aphid hosts, very little is known on their possible influence during the sexual phase. Here we investigated whether facultative symbionts modulate the capacity to produce sexual forms in various genetic backgrounds of the pea aphid with controlled symbiont composition and also in different aphid genotypes from natural populations with previously characterized infection status and reproductive mode. We found that most facultative symbionts exhibited detrimental effects on their hosts fitness under sex-inducing conditions in comparison with the reference lines. We also showed that the loss of sexual phase in permanently parthenogenetic lineages of A. pisum was not explained by facultative symbionts. Finally, we demonstrated that Spiroplasma infection annihilated the production of males in the host progeny by inducing a male-killing phenotype, an unexpected result for organisms such as aphids that reproduce primarily through clonal reproduction.
Project description: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.
Project description:In natural populations of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, a facultative bacterial symbiont of the genus Rickettsia has been detected at considerable infection frequencies worldwide. We investigated the effects of the Rickettsia symbiont on the host aphid and also on the coexisting essential symbiont Buchnera. In situ hybridization revealed that the Rickettsia symbiont was specifically localized in two types of host cells specialized for endosymbiosis: secondary mycetocytes and sheath cells. Electron microscopy identified bacterial rods, about 2 mum long and 0.5 mum thick, in sheath cells of Rickettsia-infected aphids. Virus-like particles were sometimes observed in association with the bacterial cells. By an antibiotic treatment, we generated Rickettsia-infected and Rickettsia-eliminated aphid strains with an identical genetic background. Comparison of these strains revealed that Rickettsia infection negatively affected some components of the host fitness. Quantitative PCR analysis of the bacterial population dynamics identified a remarkable interaction between the coexisting symbionts: Buchnera population was significantly suppressed in the presence of Rickettsia, particularly at the young adult stage, when the aphid most actively reproduces. On the basis of these results, we discussed the possible mechanisms that enable the prevalence of Rickettsia infection in natural host populations in spite of the negative fitness effects observed in the laboratory.
Project description:Parallel phylogenies between aphid and its obligate symbiont Buchnera are hot topics which always focused on aphid lower taxonomic levels. Symbionts in the subfamily Lachninae are special. Buchnera in many lachnine species has undergone functional and genome size reduction that was replaced by other co-obligate symbionts. In this study, we constructed the phylogenetic relationships of Lachninae with a combined dataset of five genes sequenced from Buchnera to estimate the effects of a dual symbiotic system in the aphid-Buchnera cospeciation association. The phylogeny of Buchnera in Lachninae was well-resolved in the combined dataset. Each of the genera formed strongly supported monophyletic groups, with the exception of the genus Cinara. The phylogeny based on sequences from Buchnera was divided into five tribes according to the clades of the Lachninae hosts tree, with the phylogenies of Buchnera and Lachninae being generally congruent. These results first provided evidence of parallel evolution at the aphid subfamily level comprehensively and supported the view that topological congruence between the phylogenies of Buchnera and Lachninae would not be interfered with the other co-obligate symbionts, such as Sarretia, in aphid-entosymbiont association. These results also provided new insight in understanding host-plant coevolution in lachnine lineages.
Project description:Eriosomatinae is a particular aphid group with typically heteroecious holocyclic life cycle, exhibiting strong primary host plant specialization and inducing galls on primary host plants. Aphids are frequently associated with bacterial symbionts, which can play fundamental roles in the ecology and evolution of their host aphids. However, the bacterial communities in Eriosomatinae are poorly known. In the present study, using high-throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA gene, we surveyed the bacterial flora of eriosomatines and explored the associations between symbiont diversity and aphid relatedness, aphid host plant and geographical distribution. The microbiota of Eriosomatinae is dominated by the heritable primary endosymbiont Buchnera and several facultative symbionts. The primary endosymbiont Buchnera is expectedly the most abundant symbiont across all species. Six facultative symbionts were identified. Regiella was the most commonly identified facultative symbiont, and multiple infections of facultative symbionts were detected in the majority of the samples. Ordination analyses and statistical tests show that the symbiont community of aphids feeding on plants from the family Ulmaceae were distinguishable from aphids feeding on other host plants. Species in Eriosomatinae feeding on different plants are likely to carry different symbiont compositions. The symbiont distributions seem to be not related to taxonomic distance and geographical distance. Our findings suggest that host plants can affect symbiont maintenance, and will improve our understanding of the interactions between aphids, their symbionts and ecological conditions.