Cultivation-Assisted Genome of Candidatus Fukatsuia symbiotica; the Enigmatic "X-Type" Symbiont of Aphids.
ABSTRACT: Heritable symbionts are common in terrestrial arthropods and often provide beneficial services to hosts. Unlike obligate, nutritional symbionts that largely persist under strict host control within specialized host cells, heritable facultative symbionts exhibit large variation in within-host lifestyles and services rendered with many retaining the capacity to transition among roles. One enigmatic symbiont, Candidatus Fukatsuia symbiotica, frequently infects aphids with reported roles ranging from pathogen, defensive symbiont, mutualism exploiter, and nutritional co-obligate symbiont. Here, we used an in vitro culture-assisted protocol to sequence the genome of a facultative strain of Fukatsuia from pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum). Phylogenetic and genomic comparisons indicate that Fukatsuia is an aerobic heterotroph, which together with Regiella insecticola and Hamiltonella defensa form a clade of heritable facultative symbionts within the Yersiniaceae (Enterobacteriales). These three heritable facultative symbionts largely share overlapping inventories of genes associated with housekeeping functions, metabolism, and nutrient acquisition, while varying in complements of mobile DNA. One unusual feature of Fukatsuia is its strong tendency to occur as a coinfection with H. defensa. However, the overall similarity of gene inventories among aphid heritable facultative symbionts suggests that metabolic complementarity is not the basis for coinfection, unless playing out on a H. defensa strain-specific basis. We also compared the pea aphid Fukatsuia with a strain from the aphid Cinara confinis (Lachninae) where it is reported to have transitioned to co-obligate status to support decaying Buchnera function. Overall, the two genomes are very similar with no clear genomic signatures consistent with such a transition, which suggests co-obligate status in C. confinis was a recent event.
Project description:Insects and other animals commonly form symbioses with heritable bacteria, which can exert large influences on host biology and ecology. The pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, is a model for studying effects of infection with heritable facultative symbionts (HFS), and each of its seven common HFS species has been reported to provide resistance to biotic or abiotic stresses. However, one common HFS, called X-type, rarely occurs as a single infection in field populations and instead typically superinfects individual aphids with Hamiltonella defensa, another HFS that protects aphids against attack by parasitic wasps. Using experimental aphid lines comprised of all possible infection combinations in a uniform aphid genotype, we investigated whether the most common strain of X-type provides any of the established benefits associated with aphid HFS as a single infection or superinfection with H. defensa We found that X-type does not confer protection to any tested threats, including parasitoid wasps, fungal pathogens, or thermal stress. Instead, component fitness assays identified large costs associated with X-type infection, costs which were ameliorated in superinfected aphids. Together these findings suggest that X-type exploits the aphid/H. defensa mutualism and is maintained primarily as a superinfection by "hitchhiking" via the mutualistic benefits provided by another HFS. Exploitative symbionts potentially restrict the functions and distributions of mutualistic symbioses with effects that extend to other community members.IMPORTANCE Maternally transmitted bacterial symbionts are widespread and can have major impacts on the biology of arthropods, including insects of medical and agricultural importance. Given that host fitness and symbiont fitness are tightly linked, inherited symbionts can spread within host populations by providing beneficial services. Many insects, however, are frequently infected with multiple heritable symbiont species, providing potential alternative routes of symbiont maintenance. Here we show that a common pea aphid symbiont called X-type likely employs an exploitative strategy of hitchhiking off the benefits of a protective symbiont, Hamiltonella Infection with X-type provides none of the benefits conferred by other aphid symbionts and instead results in large fitness costs, costs lessened by superinfection with Hamiltonella These findings are corroborated by natural infections in field populations, where X-type is mostly found superinfecting aphids with Hamiltonella Exploitative symbionts may be common in hosts with communities of heritable symbionts and serve to hasten the breakdown of mutualisms.
Project description:Animal-associated microbes are highly variable, contributing to a diverse set of symbiont-mediated phenotypes. Given that host and symbiont genotypes, and their interactions, can impact symbiont-based phenotypes across environments, there is potential for extensive variation in fitness outcomes. Pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum, host a diverse assemblage of heritable facultative symbionts (HFS) with characterized roles in host defense. Protective phenotypes have been largely studied as single infections, but pea aphids often carry multiple HFS species, and particular combinations may be enriched or depleted compared to expectations based on chance. Here, we examined the consequences of single infection versus coinfection with two common HFS exhibiting variable enrichment, the antiparasitoid Hamiltonella defensa and the antipathogen Regiella insecticola, across three host genotypes and environments. As expected, single infections with either H. defensa or R. insecticola raised defenses against their respective targets. Single infections with protective H. defensa lowered aphid fitness in the absence of enemy challenge, while R. insecticola was comparatively benign. However, as a coinfection, R. insecticola ameliorated H. defensa infection costs. Coinfected aphids continued to receive antiparasitoid protection from H. defensa, but protection was weakened by R. insecticola in two clones. Notably, H. defensa eliminated survival benefits conferred after pathogen exposure by coinfecting R. insecticola Since pathogen sporulation was suppressed by R. insecticola in coinfected aphids, the poor performance likely stemmed from H. defensa-imposed costs rather than weakened defenses. Our results reveal a complex set of coinfection outcomes which may partially explain natural infection patterns and suggest that symbiont-based phenotypes may not be easily predicted based solely on infection status.IMPORTANCE The hyperdiverse arthropods often harbor maternally transmitted bacteria that protect against natural enemies. In many species, low-diversity communities of heritable symbionts are common, providing opportunities for cooperation and conflict among symbionts, which can impact the defensive services rendered. Using the pea aphid, a model for defensive symbiosis, we show that coinfections with two common defensive symbionts, the antipathogen Regiella and the antiparasite Hamiltonella, produce outcomes that are highly variable compared to single infections, which consistently protect against designated enemies. Compared to single infections, coinfections often reduced defensive services during enemy challenge yet improved aphid fitness in the absence of enemies. Thus, infection with multiple symbionts does not necessarily create generalist aphids with "Swiss army knife" defenses against numerous enemies. Instead, particular combinations of symbionts may be favored for a variety of reasons, including their abilities to lessen the costs of other defensive symbionts when enemies are not present.
Project description:Bacterial endosymbiosis is an important evolutionary process in insects, which can harbor both obligate and facultative symbionts. The evolution of these symbionts is driven by evolutionary convergence, and they exhibit among the tiniest genomes in prokaryotes. The large host spectrum of facultative symbionts and the high diversity of strategies they use to infect new hosts probably impact the evolution of their genome and explain why they undergo less severe genomic erosion than obligate symbionts. Candidatus Hamiltonella defensa is suitable for the investigation of the genomic evolution of facultative symbionts because the bacteria are engaged in specific relationships in two clades of insects. In aphids, H. defensa is found in several species with an intermediate prevalence and confers protection against parasitoids. In whiteflies, H. defensa is almost fixed in some species of Bemisia tabaci, which suggests an important role of and a transition toward obligate symbiosis. In this study, comparisons of the genome of H. defensa present in two B. tabaci species (Middle East Asia Minor 1 and Mediterranean) and in the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum revealed that they belong to two distinct clades and underwent specific gene losses. In aphids, it contains highly virulent factors that could allow protection and horizontal transfers. In whiteflies, the genome lost these factors and seems to have a limited ability to acquire genes. However it contains genes that could be involved in the production of essential nutrients, which is consistent with a primordial role for this symbiont. In conclusion, although both lineages of H. defensa have mutualistic interactions with their hosts, their genomes follow distinct evolutionary trajectories that reflect their phenotype and could have important consequences on their evolvability.
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.
Project description:Terrestrial arthropods are often infected with heritable bacterial symbionts, which may themselves be infected by bacteriophages. However, what role, if any, bacteriophages play in the regulation and maintenance of insect-bacteria symbioses is largely unknown. Infection of the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum by the bacterial symbiont Hamiltonella defensa confers protection against parasitoid wasps, but only when H. defensa is itself infected by the phage A. pisum secondary endosymbiont (APSE). Here, we use a controlled genetic background and correlation-based assays to show that loss of APSE is associated with up to sevenfold increases in the intra-aphid abundance of H. defensa. APSE loss is also associated with severe deleterious effects on aphid fitness: aphids infected with H. defensa lacking APSE have a significantly delayed onset of reproduction, lower weight at adulthood and half as many total offspring as aphids infected with phage-harbouring H. defensa, indicating that phage loss can rapidly lead to the breakdown of the defensive symbiosis. Our results overall indicate that bacteriophages play critical roles in both aphid defence and the maintenance of heritable symbiosis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Many animals exhibit variation in resistance to specific natural enemies. Such variation may be encoded in their genomes or derived from infection with protective symbionts. The pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, for example, exhibits tremendous variation in susceptibility to a common natural enemy, the parasitic wasp Aphidius ervi. Pea aphids are often infected with the heritable bacterial symbiont, Hamiltonella defensa, which confers partial to complete resistance against this parasitoid depending on bacterial strain and associated bacteriophages. That previous studies found that pea aphids without H. defensa (or other symbionts) were generally susceptible to parasitism, together with observations of a limited encapsulation response, suggested that pea aphids largely rely on infection with H. defensa for protection against parasitoids. However, the limited number of uninfected clones previously examined, and our recent report of two symbiont-free resistant clones, led us to explicitly examine aphid-encoded variability in resistance to parasitoids. RESULTS:After rigorous screening for known and unknown symbionts, and microsatellite genotyping to confirm clonal identity, we conducted parasitism assays using fifteen clonal pea aphid lines. We recovered significant variability in aphid-encoded resistance, with variation levels comparable to that contributed by H. defensa. Because resistance can be costly, we also measured aphid longevity and cumulative fecundity of the most and least resistant aphid lines under permissive conditions, but found no trade-offs between higher resistance and these fitness parameters. CONCLUSIONS:These results indicate that pea aphid resistance to A. ervi is more complex than previously appreciated, and that aphids employ multiple tactics to aid in their defense. While we did not detect a tradeoff, these may become apparent under stressful conditions or when resistant and susceptible aphids are in direct competition. Understanding sources and amounts of variation in resistance to natural enemies is necessary to understand the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of antagonistic interactions, such as the potential for coevolution, but also for the successful management of pest populations through biological control.
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: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.
Project description:Associations between microbes and animals are ubiquitous and hosts may benefit from harbouring microbial communities through improved resource exploitation or resistance to environmental stress. The pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, is the host of heritable bacterial symbionts, including the obligate endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola and several facultative symbionts. While obligate symbionts supply aphids with key nutrients, facultative symbionts influence their hosts in many ways such as protection against natural enemies, heat tolerance, color change and reproduction alteration. The pea aphid also encompasses multiple plant-specialized biotypes, each adapted to one or a few legume species. Facultative symbiont communities differ strongly between biotypes, although bacterial involvement in plant specialization is uncertain. Here, we analyse the diversity of bacterial communities associated with nine biotypes of the pea aphid complex using amplicon pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes. Combined clustering and phylogenetic analyses of 16S sequences allowed identifying 21 bacterial OTUs (Operational Taxonomic Unit). More than 98% of the sequencing reads were assigned to known pea aphid symbionts. The presence of Wolbachia was confirmed in A. pisum while Erwinia and Pantoea, two gut associates, were detected in multiple samples. The diversity of bacterial communities harboured by pea aphid biotypes was very low, ranging from 3 to 11 OTUs across samples. Bacterial communities differed more between than within biotypes but this difference did not correlate with the genetic divergence between biotypes. Altogether, these results confirm that the aphid microbiota is dominated by a few heritable symbionts and that plant specialization is an important structuring factor of bacterial communities associated with the pea aphid complex. However, since we examined the microbiota of aphid samples kept a few generations in controlled conditions, it may be that bacterial diversity was underestimated due to the possible loss of environmental or transient taxa.
Project description:Many insects host facultative, bacterial symbionts that confer conditional fitness benefits to their hosts. Hamiltonella defensa is a common facultative symbiont of aphids that provides protection against parasitoid wasps. Protection levels vary among strains of H. defensa that are also differentially infected by bacteriophages named APSEs. However, little is known about trait variation among strains because only one isolate has been fully sequenced. Generating complete genomes for facultative symbionts is hindered by relatively large genome sizes but low abundances in hosts like aphids that are very small. Here, we took advantage of methods for culturing H. defensa outside of aphids to generate complete genomes and transcriptome data for four strains of H. defensa from the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. Chosen strains also spanned the breadth of the H. defensa phylogeny and differed in strength of protection conferred against parasitoids. Results indicated that strains shared most genes with roles in nutrient acquisition, metabolism, and essential housekeeping functions. In contrast, the inventory of mobile genetic elements varied substantially, which generated strain specific differences in gene content and genome architecture. In some cases, specific traits correlated with differences in protection against parasitoids, but in others high variation between strains obscured identification of traits with likely roles in defense. Transcriptome data generated continuous distributions to genome assemblies with some genes that were highly expressed and others that were not. Single molecule real-time sequencing further identified differences in DNA methylation patterns and restriction modification systems that provide defense against phage infection.