Disentangling a Holobiont - Recent Advances and Perspectives in Nasonia Wasps.
ABSTRACT: The parasitoid wasp genus Nasonia (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea) is a well-established model organism for insect development, evolutionary genetics, speciation, and symbiosis. The host-microbiota assemblage which constitutes the Nasonia holobiont (a host together with all of its associated microbes) consists of viruses, two heritable bacterial symbionts and a bacterial community dominated in abundance by a few taxa in the gut. In the wild, all four Nasonia species are systematically infected with the obligate intracellular bacterium Wolbachia and can additionally be co-infected with Arsenophonus nasoniae. These two reproductive parasites have different transmission modes and host manipulations (cytoplasmic incompatibility vs. male-killing, respectively). Pioneering studies on Wolbachia in Nasonia demonstrated that closely related Nasonia species harbor multiple and mutually incompatible Wolbachia strains, resulting in strong symbiont-mediated reproductive barriers that evolved early in the speciation process. Moreover, research on host-symbiont interactions and speciation has recently broadened from its historical focus on heritable symbionts to the entire microbial community. In this context, each Nasonia species hosts a distinguishable community of gut bacteria that experiences a temporal succession during host development and members of this bacterial community cause strong hybrid lethality during larval development. In this review, we present the Nasonia species complex as a model system to experimentally investigate questions regarding: (i) the impact of different microbes, including (but not limited to) heritable endosymbionts, on the extended phenotype of the holobiont, (ii) the establishment and regulation of a species-specific microbiota, (iii) the role of the microbiota in speciation, and (iv) the resilience and adaptability of the microbiota in wild populations subjected to different environmental pressures. We discuss the potential for easy microbiota manipulations in Nasonia as a promising experimental approach to address these fundamental aspects.
Project description:Heritable microbial symbionts have profound impacts upon the biology of their arthropod hosts. Whilst our current understanding of the dynamics of these symbionts is typically cast within a framework of vertical transmission only, horizontal transmission has been observed in a number of cases. For instance, several symbionts can transmit horizontally when their parasitoid hosts share oviposition patches with uninfected conspecifics, a phenomenon called superparasitism. Despite this, horizontal transmission, and the host contact structures that facilitates it, have not been considered in heritable symbiont epidemiology. Here, we tested for the importance of host contact, and resulting horizontal transmission, for the epidemiology of a male-killing heritable symbiont (Arsenophonus nasoniae) in parasitoid wasp hosts. We observed that host contact through superparasitism is necessary for this symbiont's spread in populations of its primary host Nasonia vitripennis, such that when superparasitism rates are high, A. nasoniae almost reaches fixation, causes highly female biased population sex ratios and consequently causes local host extinction. We further tested if natural interspecific variation in superparasitism behaviours predicted symbiont dynamics among parasitoid species. We found that A. nasoniae was maintained in laboratory populations of a closely related set of Nasonia species, but declined in other, more distantly related pteromalid hosts. The natural proclivity of a species to superparasitise was the primary factor determining symbiont persistence. Our results thus indicate that host contact behaviour is a key factor for heritable microbe dynamics when horizontal transmission is possible, and that 'reproductive parasite' phenotypes, such as male-killing, may be of secondary importance in the dynamics of such symbiont infections.
Project description:Wolbachia is a common heritable bacterial symbiont in insects. Its evolutionary success lies in the diverse phenotypic effects it has on its hosts coupled to its propensity to move between host species over evolutionary timescales. In a survey of natural host-symbiont associations in a range of Drosophila species, we found that 10 of 16 Wolbachia strains protected their hosts against viral infection. By moving Wolbachia strains between host species, we found that the symbiont genome had a much greater influence on the level of antiviral protection than the host genome. The reason for this was that the level of protection depended on the density of the symbiont in host tissues, and Wolbachia rather than the host-controlled density. The finding that virus resistance and symbiont density are largely under the control of symbiont genes in this system has important implications both for the evolution of these traits and for public health programmes using Wolbachia to prevent mosquitoes from transmitting disease.
Project description:BACKGROUND:It is well established that symbionts have considerable impact on their host, yet the investigation of the possible role of the holobiont in the host's speciation process is still in its infancy. In this study, we compared the intestinal microbiota among five sympatric pairs of dwarf (limnetic) and normal (benthic) lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis representing a continuum in the early stage of ecological speciation. We sequenced the 16s rRNA gene V3-V4 regions of the intestinal microbiota present in a total of 108 wild sympatric dwarf and normal whitefish as well as the water bacterial community from five lakes to (i) test for differences between the whitefish intestinal microbiota and the water bacterial community and (ii) test for parallelism in the intestinal microbiota of dwarf and normal whitefish. RESULTS:The water bacterial community was distinct from the intestinal microbiota, indicating that intestinal microbiota did not reflect the environment, but rather the intrinsic properties of the host microbiota. Our results revealed a strong influence of the host (dwarf or normal) on the intestinal microbiota with pronounced conservation of the core intestinal microbiota (mean ~?44% of shared genera). However, no clear evidence for parallelism was observed, whereby non-parallel differences between dwarf and normal whitefish were observed in three of the lakes while similar taxonomic composition was observed for the two other species pairs. CONCLUSIONS:This absence of parallelism across dwarf vs. normal whitefish microbiota highlighted the complexity of the holobiont and suggests that the direction of selection could be different between the host and its microbiota.
Project description:Phylosymbiosis was recently proposed to describe the eco-evolutionary pattern, whereby the ecological relatedness of host-associated microbial communities parallels the phylogeny of related host species. Here, we test the prevalence of phylosymbiosis and its functional significance under highly controlled conditions by characterizing the microbiota of 24 animal species from four different groups (Peromyscus deer mice, Drosophila flies, mosquitoes, and Nasonia wasps), and we reevaluate the phylosymbiotic relationships of seven species of wild hominids. We demonstrate three key findings. First, intraspecific microbiota variation is consistently less than interspecific microbiota variation, and microbiota-based models predict host species origin with high accuracy across the dataset. Interestingly, the age of host clade divergence positively associates with the degree of microbial community distinguishability between species within the host clades, spanning recent host speciation events (~1 million y ago) to more distantly related host genera (~108 million y ago). Second, topological congruence analyses of each group's complete phylogeny and microbiota dendrogram reveal significant degrees of phylosymbiosis, irrespective of host clade age or taxonomy. Third, consistent with selection on host-microbiota interactions driving phylosymbiosis, there are survival and performance reductions when interspecific microbiota transplants are conducted between closely related and divergent host species pairs. Overall, these findings indicate that the composition and functional effects of an animal's microbial community can be closely allied with host evolution, even across wide-ranging timescales and diverse animal systems reared under controlled conditions.
Project description:Maternally transmitted bacteria have been important players in the evolution of insects and other arthropods, affecting their nutrition, defense, development, and reproduction. Wolbachia are the best studied among these and typically the most prevalent. While several other bacteria have independently evolved a heritable lifestyle, less is known about their host ranges. Moreover, most groups of insects have not had their heritable microflora systematically surveyed across a broad range of their taxonomic diversity. To help remedy these shortcomings we used diagnostic PCR to screen for five groups of heritable symbionts-Arsenophonus spp., Cardinium hertigii, Hamiltonella defensa, Spiroplasma spp., and Wolbachia spp.-across the ants and lepidopterans (focusing, in the latter case, on two butterfly families-the Lycaenidae and Nymphalidae). We did not detect Cardinium or Hamiltonella in any host. Wolbachia were the most widespread, while Spiroplasma (ants and lepidopterans) and Arsenophonus (ants only) were present at low levels. Co-infections with different Wolbachia strains appeared especially common in ants and less so in lepidopterans. While no additional facultative heritable symbionts were found among ants using universal bacterial primers, microbes related to heritable enteric bacteria were detected in several hosts. In summary, our findings show that Wolbachia are the dominant heritable symbionts of ants and at least some lepidopterans. However, a systematic review of symbiont frequencies across host taxa revealed that this is not always the case across other arthropods. Furthermore, comparisons of symbiont frequencies revealed that the prevalence of Wolbachia and other heritable symbionts varies substantially across lower-level arthropod taxa. We discuss the correlates, potential causes, and implications of these patterns, providing hypotheses on host attributes that may shape the distributions of these influential bacteria.
Project description:The recognition of the microbiota complexity and their role in the evolution of their host is leading to the popularization of the holobiont concept. However, the coral holobiont (host and its microbiota) is still enigmatic and unclear. Here, we explore the complex relations between different holobiont members of a mesophotic coral Euphyllia paradivisa. We subjected two lines of the coral-with photosymbionts, and without photosymbionts (apo-symbiotic)-to increasing temperatures and to antibiotics. The different symbiotic states were characterized using transcriptomics, microbiology and physiology techniques. The bacterial community's composition is dominated by bacteroidetes, alphaproteobacteria, and gammaproteobacteria, but is dependent upon the symbiont state, colony, temperature treatment, and antibiotic exposure. Overall, the most important parameter determining the response was whether the coral was a symbiont/apo-symbiotic, while the colony and bacterial composition were secondary factors. Enrichment Gene Ontology analysis of coral host's differentially expressed genes demonstrated the cellular differences between symbiotic and apo-symbiotic samples. Our results demonstrate the significance of each component of the holobiont consortium and imply a coherent link between them, which dramatically impacts the molecular and cellular processes of the coral host, which possibly affect its fitness, particularly under environmental stress.
Project description:Bacterial endosymbionts can drive evolutionary novelty by conferring adaptive benefits under adverse environmental conditions. Among aphid species there is growing evidence that symbionts influence tolerance to various forms of stress. However, the extent to which stress inflicted on the aphid host has cascading effects on symbiont community dynamics remains poorly understood. Here we simultaneously quantified the effect of host-plant induced and xenobiotic stress on soybean aphid (Aphis glycines) fitness and relative abundance of its three bacterial symbionts. Exposure to soybean defensive stress (Rag1 gene) and a neurotoxic insecticide (thiamethoxam) substantially reduced aphid composite fitness (survival × reproduction) by 74 ± 10% and 92 ± 2%, respectively, which in turn induced distinctive changes in the endosymbiont microbiota. When challenged by host-plant defenses a 1.4-fold reduction in abundance of the obligate symbiont Buchnera was observed across four aphid clonal lines. Among facultative symbionts of Rag1-stressed aphids, Wolbachia abundance increased twofold and Arsenophonus decreased 1.5-fold. A similar pattern was observed under xenobiotic stress, with Buchnera and Arsenophonus titers decreasing (1.3-fold) and Wolbachia increasing (1.5-fold). Furthermore, variation in aphid virulence to Rag1 was positively correlated with changes in Arsenophonus titers, but not Wolbachia or Buchnera. A single Arsenophonus multi-locus genotype was found among aphid clonal lines, indicating strain diversity is not primarily responsible for correlated host-symbiont stress levels. Overall, our results demonstrate the nature of aphid symbioses can significantly affect the outcome of interactions under stress and suggests general changes in the microbiome can occur across multiple stress types.
Project description:Heritable symbionts that protect their hosts from pathogens have been described in a wide range of insect species. By reducing the incidence or severity of infection, these symbionts have the potential to reduce the strength of selection on genes in the insect genome that increase resistance. Therefore, the presence of such symbionts may slow down the evolution of resistance. Here we investigated this idea by exposing Drosophila melanogaster populations to infection with the pathogenic Drosophila C virus (DCV) in the presence or absence of Wolbachia, a heritable symbiont of arthropods that confers protection against viruses. After nine generations of selection, we found that resistance to DCV had increased in all populations. However, in the presence of Wolbachia the resistant allele of pastrel-a gene that has a major effect on resistance to DCV-was at a lower frequency than in the symbiont-free populations. This finding suggests that defensive symbionts have the potential to hamper the evolution of insect resistance genes, potentially leading to a state of evolutionary addiction where the genetically susceptible insect host mostly relies on its symbiont to fight pathogens.
Project description:Nasonia vitripennis, a parasitic wasp, is a good model organism to study developmental and evolutionary genetics and to evaluate the interactions between insect hosts and their symbionts. Wolbachia may be the most prevalent endosymbiont among insect species due to their special ability to improve the fitness of the infected hosts. Transinfection of bacteria or fungi could substantially alter the expression of host immune system components. However, few studies have focused on the effects of native Wolbachia infection. Accordingly, in this study, we evaluated the proteomics of N. vitripennis following Wolbachia infection.We studied the proteomics of N. vitripennis following native Wolbachia infection and in antibiotic-treated Wolbachia-free samples using isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantification-liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, accompanying with some ecological experiments.In total, 3,096 proteins were found to be associated with a wide range of biological processes, molecular functions, and cellular components. Interestingly, there were few significant changes in immune or reproductive proteins between samples with and without Wolbachia infection. Differentially expressed proteins were involved in the binding process, catalytic activity, and the metabolic process, as confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.Invasion of any pathogen or bacterium within a short time can cause an immunoreaction in the host. Our results implied that during the long process of coexistence, the immune system of the host was not as sensitive as when the symbiont initially infected the host, implying that the organisms had gradually adjusted to cohabitation.
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.