Project description:The relationship between corals and dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium is fundamental to the functioning of coral ecosystems. It has been suggested that reef corals may adapt to climate change by changing their dominant symbiont type to a more thermally tolerant one, although the capacity for such a shift is potentially hindered by the compatibility of different host-symbiont pairings. Here we combined transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses to characterize the molecular, cellular, and physiological processes that underlie this compatibility, with a particular focus on Symbiodinium trenchii, an opportunistic, thermally tolerant symbiont that flourishes in coral tissues after bleaching events. Symbiont-free individuals of the sea anemone Exaiptasia pallida (commonly referred to as Aiptasia), an established model system for the study of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis, were colonized with the "normal" (homologous) symbiont Symbiodinium minutum and the heterologous S. trenchii Analysis of the host gene and metabolite expression profiles revealed that heterologous symbionts induced an expression pattern intermediate between the typical symbiotic state and the aposymbiotic state. Furthermore, integrated pathway analysis revealed that increased catabolism of fixed carbon stores, metabolic signaling, and immune processes occurred in response to the heterologous symbiont type. Our data suggest that both nutritional provisioning and the immune response induced by the foreign "invader" are important factors in determining the capacity of corals to adapt to climate change through the establishment of novel symbioses.
Project description:Large-scale mortality of marine invertebrates is a major global concern for ocean ecosystems and many sessile, reef-building animals, such as sponges and corals, are experiencing significant declines through temperature-induced disease and bleaching. The health and survival of marine invertebrates is often dependent on intimate symbiotic associations with complex microbial communities, yet we have a very limited understanding of the detailed biology and ecology of both the host and the symbiont community in response to environmental stressors, such as elevated seawater temperatures. Here, we use the ecologically important sponge Rhopaloeides odorabile as a model to explore the changes in symbiosis during the development of temperature-induced necrosis. Expression profiling of the sponge host was examined in conjunction with the phylogenetic and functional structure and the expression profile of the symbiont community. Elevated temperature causes an immediate stress response in both the host and symbiont community, including reduced expression of functions that mediate their partnership. Disruption to nutritional interdependence and molecular interactions during early heat stress further destabilizes the holobiont, ultimately leading to the loss of archetypal sponge symbionts and the introduction of new microorganisms that have functional and expression profiles consistent with a scavenging lifestyle, a lack virulence functions and a high growth rate. Previous models have postulated various mechanisms of mortality and disease in marine invertebrates. Our study suggests that interruption of symbiotic interactions is a major determinant for mortality in marine sessile invertebrates. High symbiont specialization and low functional redundancy, thus make these holobionts extremely vulnerable to environmental perturbations, including climate change.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Rhizobia induce the formation on specific legumes of new organs, the root nodules, as a result of an elaborated developmental program involving the two partners. In order to contribute to a more global view of the genetics underlying this plant-microbe symbiosis, we have mined the recently determined Sinorhizobium meliloti genome sequence for genes potentially relevant to symbiosis. We describe here the construction and use of dedicated nylon macroarrays to study simultaneously the expression of 200 of these genes in a variety of environmental conditions, pertinent to symbiosis. RESULTS:The expression of 214 S. meliloti genes was monitored under ten environmental conditions, including free-living aerobic and microaerobic conditions, addition of the plant symbiotic elicitor luteolin, and a variety of symbiotic conditions. Five new genes induced by luteolin have been identified as well as nine new genes induced in mature nitrogen-fixing bacteroids. A bacterial and a plant symbiotic mutant affected in nodule development have been found of particular interest to decipher gene expression at the intermediate stage of the symbiotic interaction. S. meliloti gene expression in the cultivated legume Medicago sativa (alfalfa) and the model plant M. truncatula were compared and a small number of differences was found. CONCLUSIONS:In addition to exploring conditions for a genome-wide transcriptome analysis of the model rhizobium S. meliloti, the present work has highlighted the differential expression of several classes of genes during symbiosis. These genes are related to invasion, oxidative stress protection, iron mobilization, and signaling, thus emphasizing possible common mechanisms between symbiosis and pathogenesis.
Project description:Spaceflight imposes numerous adaptive challenges for terrestrial life. The reduction in gravity, or microgravity, represents a novel environment that can disrupt homeostasis of many physiological processes. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly clear that an organism's microbiome is critical for host health and examining its resiliency in microgravity represents a new frontier for space biology research. In this study, we examine the impact of microgravity on the interactions between the squid Euprymna scolopes and its beneficial symbiont Vibrio fischeri, which form a highly specific binary mutualism. First, animals inoculated with V. fischeri aboard the space shuttle showed effective colonization of the host light organ, the site of the symbiosis, during space flight. Second, RNA-Seq analysis of squid exposed to modeled microgravity conditions exhibited extensive differential gene expression in the presence and absence of the symbiotic partner. Transcriptomic analyses revealed in the absence of the symbiont during modeled microgravity there was an enrichment of genes and pathways associated with the innate immune and oxidative stress response. The results suggest that V. fischeri may help modulate the host stress responses under modeled microgravity. This study provides a window into the adaptive responses that the host animal and its symbiont use during modeled microgravity.
Project description:Symbiodinium are responsible for the majority of primary production in coral reefs and found in a mutualistic symbiosis with multiple animal phyla. However, little is known about the molecular signals involved in the establishment of this symbiosis and whether it initiates during host larval development. To address this question, we monitored the expression of a putative symbiosis-specific gene (H+-ATPase) in Symbiodinium A1 ex hospite and in association with larvae of a scleractinian coral (Mussismilia hispida), a nudibranch (Berghia stephanieae) and a giant clam (Tridacna crocea). We acquired broodstock for each host, induced spawning and cultured the larvae. Symbiodinium cells were offered and larval samples taken for each host during the first 72 h after symbiont addition. In addition, control samples including free-living Symbiodinium and broodstock tissue containing symbionts for each host were collected. RNA extraction and RT-PCR were performed and amplified products cloned and sequenced. Our results show that H+-ATPase was expressed in Symbiodinium associated with coral and giant clam larvae, but not with nudibranch larvae, which digested the symbionts. Broodstock tissue for coral and giant clam also expressed H+-ATPase, but not the nudibranch tissue sample. Our results of the expression of H+-ATPase as a marker gene suggest that symbiosis between Symbiodinium and M. hispida and T. crocea is established during host larval development. Conversely, in the case of B. stephanieae larvae, evidence does not support a mutualistic relationship. Our study supports the utilization of H+-ATPase expression as a marker for assessing Symbiodinium-invertebrate relationships with applications for the differentiation of symbiotic and non-symbiotic associations. At the same time, insights from a single marker gene approach are limited and future studies should direct the identification of additional symbiosis-specific genes, ideally from both symbiont and host.
Project description:In horizontally transmitted symbioses, structural, biochemical, and molecular features both facilitate host colonization by specific symbionts and mediate their persistent carriage. In the association between the squid Euprymna scolopes and its luminous bacterial partner Vibrio fischeri, the symbionts interact with two epithelial fields; they interact (i) transiently with the superficial ciliated field that potentiates colonization and regresses within days of colonization and (ii) persistently with the cells that line the internal crypts, whose ultrastructure changes in response to the symbionts. Development of the association creates conditions that promote the symbiotic partner over the lifetime of the host. To determine whether light organ maturation requires continuous interactions with V. fischeri or only the signaling that occurs during its initiation, we compared 4-week-old squid that were uncolonized with those colonized either persistently by wild-type V. fischeri or transiently by a V. fischeri mutant that triggers early events in morphogenesis but does not persist. Microscopic analysis of the light organs showed that, while morphogenesis of the superficial ciliated field is greatly accelerated by V. fischeri colonization, its eventual outcome is largely independent of colonization state. In contrast, the symbiont-induced changes in crypt cell shape require persistent host-symbiont interaction, reflected in the similarity between uncolonized and transiently colonized animals. Transcriptomic analyses reflected the microscopy results; host gene expression at 4?weeks was due primarily to the persistent interactions of host and symbiont cells. Further, the transcriptomic signature of specific pathways reflected the daily rhythm of symbiont release and regrowth and required the presence of the symbionts. IMPORTANCE A long-term relationship between symbiotic partners is often characterized by development and maturation of host structures that harbor the symbiont cells over the host's lifetime. To understand the mechanisms involved in symbiosis maintenance more fully, we studied the mature bobtail squid, whose light-emitting organ, under experimental conditions, can be transiently or persistently colonized by Vibrio fischeri or remain uncolonized. Superficial anatomical changes in the organ were largely independent of symbiosis. However, both the microanatomy of cells with which symbionts interact and the patterns of gene expression in the mature animal were due principally to the persistent interactions of host and symbiont cells rather than to a response to early colonization events. Further, the characteristic pronounced daily rhythm on the host transcriptome required persistent V. fischeri colonization of the organ. This experimental study provides a window into how persistent symbiotic colonization influences the form and function of host animal tissues.
Project description:ALMOST ALL LUMBRICID EARTHWORMS (OLIGOCHAETA:Lumbricidae) harbor extracellular species-specific bacterial symbionts of the genus Verminephrobacter (Betaproteobacteria) in their nephridia. The symbionts have a beneficial effect on host reproduction and likely live on their host's waste products. They are vertically transmitted and presumably associated with earthworms already at the origin of Lumbricidae 62-136 million years ago. The Verminephrobacter genomes carry signs of bottleneck-induced genetic drift, such as accelerated evolutionary rates, low codon usage bias, and extensive genome shuffling, which are characteristic of vertically transmitted intracellular symbionts. However, the Verminephrobacter genomes lack AT bias, size reduction, and pseudogenization, which are also common genomic hallmarks of vertically transmitted, intracellular symbionts. We propose that the opportunity for genetic mixing during part of the host-symbiont life cycle is the key to evade drift-induced genome erosion. Furthermore, we suggest the earthworm-Verminephrobacter association as a new experimental system for investigating host-microbe interactions, and especially for understanding genome evolution of vertically transmitted symbionts in the presence of genetic mixing.
Project description:The alydid stinkbug Riptortus pedestris is specifically associated with a beneficial Burkholderia symbiont in the midgut crypts. Exceptional among insect-microbe mutualistic associations, the Burkholderia symbiont is not vertically transmitted but orally acquired by nymphal insects from the environment every generation. Here we experimentally investigated the process of symbiont acquisition during the nymphal development of R. pedestris. In a field population, many 2nd instar nymphs were Burkholderia free, while all 3rd, 4th, and 5th instar nymphs were infected. When reared on soil-grown potted soybean plants, Burkholderia acquisition occurred at a drastically higher frequency in the 2nd instar than in the other instars. Oral administration of cultured Burkholderia cells showed that 2nd and 3rd instar nymphs are significantly more susceptible to the symbiont infection than 1st, 4th, and 5th instar nymphs. Histological observations revealed rudimentary midgut crypts in the 1st instar, in contrast to well-developed midgut crypts in the 2nd and later instars. These results indicate that R. pedestris acquires the Burkholderia symbiont from the environment mainly during the 2nd instar period and strongly suggest that the competence for the symbiont infection is developmentally regulated by the host side. Potential mechanisms involved in infection competence and possible reasons why the infection preferentially occurs in the 2nd instar are discussed.
Project description:Global warming impacts diverse organisms not only directly but also indirectly via other organisms with which they interact. Recently, the possibility that elevated temperatures resulting from global warming may substantially affect biodiversity through disrupting mutualistic/parasitic associations has been highlighted. Here we report an experimental demonstration that global warming can affect a pest insect via suppression of its obligate bacterial symbiont. The southern green stinkbug Nezara viridula depends on a specific gut bacterium for its normal growth and survival. When the insects were reared inside or outside a simulated warming incubator wherein temperature was controlled at 2.5°C higher than outside, the insects reared in the incubator exhibited severe fitness defects (i.e., retarded growth, reduced size, yellowish body color, etc.) and significant reduction of symbiont population, particularly in the midsummer season, whereas the insects reared outside did not. Rearing at 30°C or 32.5°C resulted in similar defective phenotypes of the insects, whereas no adult insects emerged at 35°C. Notably, experimental symbiont suppression by an antibiotic treatment also induced similar defective phenotypes of the insects, indicating that the host's defective phenotypes are attributable not to the heat stress itself but to the suppression of the symbiont population induced by elevated temperature. These results strongly suggest that high temperature in the midsummer season negatively affects the insects not directly but indirectly via the heat-vulnerable obligate bacterial symbiont, which highlights the practical relevance of mutualism collapse in this warming world.Climate change is among the biggest environmental issues in the contemporary world, and its impact on the biodiversity and ecosystem is not only of scientific interest but also of practical concern for the general public. On the basis of our laboratory data obtained under strictly controlled environmental conditions and our simulated warming data obtained in seminatural settings (elevated 2.5°C above the normal temperature), we demonstrate here that Nezara viridula, the notorious stinkbug pest, suffers serious fitness defects in the summer season under the simulated warming conditions, wherein high temperature acts on the insect not directly but indirectly via suppression of its obligate gut bacterium. Our finding highlights that heat-susceptible symbionts can be the "Achilles' heel" of symbiont-dependent organisms under climate change conditions.
Project description:Coral reefs have evolved with a crucial symbiosis between photosynthetic dinoflagellates (genus Symbiodinium) and their cnidarian hosts (Scleractinians). Most coral larvae take up Symbiodinium from their environment; however, the earliest steps in this process have been elusive. Here we demonstrate that the disaccharide trehalose may be an important signal from the symbiont to potential larval hosts. Symbiodinium freshly isolated from Fungia scutaria corals constantly released trehalose (but not sucrose, maltose or glucose) into seawater, and released glycerol only in the presence of coral tissue. Spawning Fungia adults increased symbiont number in their immediate area by excreting pellets of Symbiodinium, and when these naturally discharged Symbiodinium were cultured, they also released trehalose. In Y-maze experiments, coral larvae demonstrated chemoattractant and feeding behaviors only towards a chamber with trehalose or glycerol. Concomitantly, coral larvae and adult tissue, but not symbionts, had significant trehalase enzymatic activities, suggesting the capacity to utilize trehalose. Trehalase activity was developmentally regulated in F. scutaria larvae, rising as the time for symbiont uptake occurs. Consistent with the enzymatic assays, gene finding demonstrated the presence of a trehalase enzyme in the genome of a related coral, Acropora digitifera, and a likely trehalase in the transcriptome of F. scutaria. Taken together, these data suggest that adult F. scutaria seed the reef with Symbiodinium during spawning and the exuded Symbiodinium release trehalose into the environment, which acts as a chemoattractant for F. scutaria larvae and as an initiator of feeding behavior- the first stages toward establishing the coral-Symbiodinium relationship. Because trehalose is a fixed carbon compound, this cue would accurately demonstrate to the cnidarian larvae the photosynthetic ability of the potential symbiont in the ambient environment. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a chemical cue attracting the motile coral larvae to the symbiont.