Moss bugs (Coleorrhyncha: Peloridiidae) are members of the order Hemiptera, and like many hemipterans, they have symbiotic associations with intracellular bacteria to fulfill nutritional requirements resulting from their unbalanced diet. The primary endosymbiont of the moss bugs, Candidatus Evansia muelleri, is phylogenetically related to Candidatus Carsonella ruddii and Candidatus Portiera aleyrodidarum, primary endosymbionts of psyllids and whiteflies, respectively. In this work, we report the genome of Candidatus Evansia muelleri Xc1 from Xenophyes cascus, which is the only obligate endosymbiont present in the association. This endosymbiont possesses an extremely reduced genome similar to Carsonella and Portiera. It has crossed the borderline to be considered as an autonomous cell, requiring the support of the insect host for some housekeeping cell functions. Interestingly, in spite of its small genome size, Evansia maintains enriched amino acid (complete or partial pathways for ten essential and six nonessential amino acids) and sulfur metabolisms, probably related to the poor diet of the insect, based on bryophytes, which contains very low levels of nitrogenous and sulfur compounds. Several facts, including the congruence of host (moss bugs, whiteflies, and psyllids) and endosymbiont phylogenies and the retention of the same ribosomal RNA operon during genome reduction in Evansia, Portiera, and Carsonella, suggest the existence of an ancient endosymbiotic Halomonadaceae clade associated with Hemiptera. Three possible scenarios for the origin of these three primary endosymbiont genera are proposed and discussed.
Uric acid stored in the fat body of cockroaches is a nitrogen reservoir mobilized in times of scarcity. The discovery of urease in Blattabacterium cuenoti, the primary endosymbiont of cockroaches, suggests that the endosymbiont may participate in cockroach nitrogen economy. However, bacterial urease may only be one piece in the entire nitrogen recycling process from insect uric acid. Thus, in addition to the uricolytic pathway to urea, there must be glutamine synthetase assimilating the released ammonia by the urease reaction to enable the stored nitrogen to be metabolically usable. None of the Blattabacterium genomes sequenced to date possess genes encoding for those enzymes. To test the host's contribution to the process, we have sequenced and analysed Blattella germanica transcriptomes from the fat body. We identified transcripts corresponding to all genes necessary for the synthesis of uric acid and its catabolism to urea, as well as for the synthesis of glutamine, asparagine, proline and glycine, i.e. the amino acids required by the endosymbiont. We also explored the changes in gene expression with different dietary protein levels. It appears that the ability to use uric acid as a nitrogen reservoir emerged in cockroaches after its age-old symbiotic association with bacteria.
Many insect endosymbionts described so far are gram-negative bacteria. Primary endosymbionts are obligatory bacteria usually harboured by insects inside vacuoles in specialized cells called bacteriocytes. This combination produces a typical three-membrane system with one membrane derived from the insect vacuole and the other two from the bacterial gram-negative cell envelope, composed by the cell wall (the outer membrane plus the periplasmic space) and the plasma membrane (the inner membrane). For the last 21 years, the primary endosymbiont of whiteflies 'Candidatus Portiera aleyrodidarum' was considered an exception to this rule. Previous works stated that only two membranes were present, the vacuolar membrane and one of the two bacterial membranes. The absence of the cell wall was related to the special vertical transmission of the endosymbionts in whiteflies. In this work, we present electron microscopic studies showing a complete cell envelope in 'Ca. Portiera aleyrodidarum' from the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. Additionally, comparison of the inferred metabolism from the gene content did not show any difference in cell envelope biogenesis compared with the closely related three-membrane endosymbionts 'Candidatus Carsonella ruddii' and 'Candidatus Evansia muelleri' Xc1. Our results rule out the proposal that 'Ca. Portiera aleyrodidarum' is an exception to the three-membrane system.
Particularly interesting cases of mutualistic endosymbioses come from the establishment of co-obligate associations of more than one species of endosymbiotic bacteria. Throughout symbiotic accommodation from a free-living bacterium, passing through a facultative stage and ending as an obligate intracellular one, the symbiont experiences massive genomic losses and phenotypic adjustments. Here, we scrutinized the changes in the coevolution of Serratia symbiotica and Buchnera aphidicola endosymbionts in aphids, paying particular attention to the transformations undergone by S. symbiotica to become an obligate endosymbiont. Although it is already known that S. symbiotica is facultative in Acyrthosiphon pisum, in Cinara cedri it has established a co-obligate endosymbiotic consortium along with B. aphidicola to fulfill the aphid's nutritional requirements. The state of this association in C. tujafilina, an aphid belonging to the same subfamily (Lachninae) that C. cedri, remained unknown. Here, we report the genome of S. symbiotica strain SCt-VLC from the aphid C. tujafilina. While being phylogenetically and genomically very closely related to the facultative endosymbiont S. symbiotica from the aphid A. pisum, it shows a variety of metabolic, genetic, and architectural features, which point toward this endosymbiont being one step closer to an obligate intracellular one. We also describe in depth the process of genome rearrangements suffered by S. symbiotica and the role mobile elements play in gene inactivations. Finally, we postulate the supply to the host of the essential riboflavin (vitamin B2) as key to the establishment of S. symbiotica as a co-obligate endosymbiont in the aphids belonging to the subfamily Lachninane.
Many insects harbor inherited bacterial endosymbionts. Although some of them are not strictly essential and are considered facultative, they can be a key to host survival under specific environmental conditions, such as parasitoid attacks, climate changes, or insecticide pressures. The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is at the top of the list of organisms inflicting agricultural damage and outbreaks, and changes in its distribution may be associated to global warming. In this work, we have sequenced and analyzed the genome of Cardinium cBtQ1, a facultative bacterial endosymbiont of B. tabaci and propose that it belongs to a new taxonomic family, which also includes Candidatus Amoebophilus asiaticus and Cardinium cEper1, endosymbionts of amoeba and wasps, respectively. Reconstruction of their last common ancestors' gene contents revealed an initial massive gene loss from the free-living ancestor. This was followed in Cardinium by smaller losses, associated with settlement in arthropods. Some of these losses, affecting cofactor and amino acid biosynthetic encoding genes, took place in Cardinium cBtQ1 after its divergence from the Cardinium cEper1 lineage and were related to its settlement in the whitefly and its endosymbionts. Furthermore, the Cardinium cBtQ1 genome displays a large proportion of transposable elements, which have recently inactivated genes and produced chromosomal rearrangements. The genome also contains a chromosomal duplication and a multicopy plasmid, which harbors several genes putatively associated with gliding motility, as well as two other genes encoding proteins with potential insecticidal activity. As gene amplification is very rare in endosymbionts, an important function of these genes cannot be ruled out.
Symbiotic associations between animals and microbes are ubiquitous in nature, with an estimated 15% of all insect species harboring intracellular bacterial symbionts. Most bacterial symbionts share many genomic features including small genomes, nucleotide composition bias, high coding density, and a paucity of mobile DNA, consistent with long-term host association. In this study, we focus on the early stages of genome degeneration in a recently derived insect-bacterial mutualistic intracellular association. We present the complete genome sequence and annotation of Sitophilus oryzae primary endosymbiont (SOPE). We also present the finished genome sequence and annotation of strain HS, a close free-living relative of SOPE and other insect symbionts of the Sodalis-allied clade, whose gene inventory is expected to closely resemble the putative ancestor of this group. Structural, functional, and evolutionary analyses indicate that SOPE has undergone extensive adaptation toward an insect-associated lifestyle in a very short time period. The genome of SOPE is large in size when compared with many ancient bacterial symbionts; however, almost half of the protein-coding genes in SOPE are pseudogenes. There is also evidence for relaxed selection on the remaining intact protein-coding genes. Comparative analyses of the whole-genome sequence of strain HS and SOPE highlight numerous genomic rearrangements, duplications, and deletions facilitated by a recent expansion of insertions sequence elements, some of which appear to have catalyzed adaptive changes. Functional metabolic predictions suggest that SOPE has lost the ability to synthesize several essential amino acids and vitamins. Analyses of the bacterial cell envelope and genes encoding secretion systems suggest that these structures and elements have become simplified in the transition to a mutualistic association.
Antibiotic therapy is a causative agent of severe disturbances in microbial communities. In healthy individuals, the gut microbiota prevents infection by harmful microorganisms through direct inhibition (releasing antimicrobial compounds), competition, or stimulation of the host's immune defenses. However, widespread antibiotic use has resulted in short- and long-term shifts in the gut microbiota structure, leading to a loss in colonization resistance in some cases. Consequently, some patients develop Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) after taking an antibiotic (AB) and, at present, this opportunistic pathogen is one of the main causes of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in hospitalized patients. Here, we analyze the composition and functional differences in the gut microbiota of C. difficile infected (CDI) vs. non-infected patients, both patient groups having been treated with AB therapy. To do so we used 16S rRNA gene and metagenomic 454-based pyrosequencing approaches. Samples were taken before, during and after AB treatment and were checked for the presence of the pathogen. We performed different analyses and comparisons between infected (CD+) vs. non-infected (CD-) samples, allowing proposing putative candidate taxa and functions that might protect against C. difficile colonization. Most of these potentially protective taxa belonged to the Firmicutes phylum, mainly to the order Clostridiales, while some candidate protective functions were related to aromatic amino acid biosynthesis and stress response mechanisms. We also found that CDI patients showed, in general, lower diversity and richness than non-infected, as well as an overrepresentation of members of the families Bacteroidaceae, Enterococcaceae, Lactobacillaceae and Clostridium clusters XI and XIVa. Regarding metabolic functions, we detected higher abundance of genes involved in the transport and binding of carbohydrates, ions, and others compounds as a response to an antibiotic environment.
Intracellular bacterial supply of essential amino acids is common among sap-feeding insects, thus complementing the scarcity of nitrogenous compounds in plant phloem. This is also the role of the two mealybug endosymbiotic systems whose genomes have been sequenced. In the nested endosymbiotic system from Planococcus citri (Pseudococcinae), "Candidatus Tremblaya princeps" and "Candidatus Moranella endobia" cooperate to synthesize essential amino acids, while in Phenacoccus avenae (Phenacoccinae) this function is performed by its single endosymbiont "Candidatus Tremblaya phenacola." However, little is known regarding the evolution of essential amino acid supplementation strategies in other mealybug systems. To address this knowledge gap, we screened for the presence of six selected loci involved in essential amino acid biosynthesis in five additional mealybug species. We found evidence of ongoing complementarity among endosymbionts from insects of subfamily Pseudococcinae, as well as horizontal gene transfer affecting endosymbionts from insects of family Phenacoccinae, providing a more comprehensive picture of the evolutionary history of these endosymbiotic systems. Additionally, we report two diagnostic motifs to help identify invasive mealybug species.
Resin is a chemical and physical defensive barrier secreted by many plants, especially coniferous trees, with insecticidal and antimicrobial properties. The degradation of terpenes, the main components accounting for the toxicity of resin, is highly relevant for a vast range of biotechnological processes, including bioremediation. In the present work, we used a resin-based selective medium in order to study the resin-tolerant microbial communities associated with the galls formed by the moth Retinia resinella; as well as resin from Pinus sylvestris forests, one of the largest ecosystems on Earth and a yet-unexplored source of terpene-degrading microorganisms. The taxonomic and functional diversity of the cultivated, resin-tolerant fraction of the whole microbiota were unveiled by high-throughput sequencing, which resulted in the detection of more than 40 bacterial genera among the terpene-degrading microorganisms, and a range of genes involved in the degradation of different terpene families. We further characterized through culture-based approaches and transcriptome sequencing selected microbial strains, including Pseudomonas sp., the most abundant species in both environmental resin and R. resinella resin-rich galls, and three fungal species, and experimentally confirmed their ability to degrade resin and also other terpene-based compounds and, thus, their potential use in biotechnological applications involving terpene catabolism.
Abstract We report the finding of the freshwater leech Helobdella europaea in Spain for the first time. Three leech specimens were found attached to the European pond turtle Emys orbicularis. Helobdella europaea is not a blood feeder and, like all members of the genus, feeds on the hemolymph of aquatic invertebrates including snails and worms. Despite the fact that the original geographical distribution or source population of this species is unknown, the close relationship between H. europaea and leeches of the "triserialis" series (sensu Sawyer, 1986) suggests a New World origin. Given its ability to invade and persist in new environments, this leech has been described as a new species by local taxonomists resulting in some nomenclatural problems. The presence of this introduced organism in Spain may represent serious obstacles to the current efforts to preserve endemic fauna and the potential negative impacts of this species in European environments should be investigated.
The ecological relationships that organisms establish with others can be considered as broad and diverse as the forms of life that inhabit and interact in our planet. Those interactions can be considered as a continuum spectrum, ranging from beneficial to detrimental outcomes. However, this picture has revealed as more complex and dynamic than previously thought, involving not only factors that affect the two or more members that interact, but also external forces, with chance playing a crucial role in this interplay. Thus, defining a particular symbiont as mutualist or pathogen in an exclusive way, based on simple rules of classification is increasingly challenging if not unfeasible, since new methodologies are providing more evidences that depict exceptions, reversions and transitions within either side of this continuum, especially evident at early stages of symbiotic associations. This imposes a wider and more dynamic view of a complex landscape of interactions.
This study aimed to analyze and compare the diversity and structure of the viral and microbial communities in fecal samples from a control group of healthy volunteers and from patients affected by Crohns disease (CD).
The microbiomes in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of individuals receiving antibiotics and those in obese subjects undergo compositional shifts, the metabolic effects and linkages of which are not clearly understood. Herein, we set to gain insight into these effects, particularly with regard to carbohydrate metabolism, and to contribute to unravel the underlying mechanisms and consequences for health conditions. We measured the activity level of GIT carbohydrate-active enzymes toward 23 distinct sugars in adults patients (n = 2) receiving 14-d ?-lactam therapy and in obese (n = 7) and lean (n = 5) adolescents. We observed that both 14 d antibiotic-treated and obese subjects showed higher and less balanced sugar anabolic capacities, with 40% carbohydrates being preferentially processed as compared with non-treated and lean patients. Metaproteome-wide metabolic reconstructions confirmed that the impaired utilization of sugars propagated throughout the pentose phosphate metabolism, which had adverse consequences for the metabolic status of the GIT microbiota. The results point to an age-independent positive association between GIT glycosidase activity and the body mass index, fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance (r ( 2) ? 0.95). Moreover, antibiotics altered the active fraction of enzymes controlling the thickness, composition and consistency of the mucin glycans. Our data and analyses provide biochemical insights into the effects of antibiotic usage on the dynamics of the GIT microbiota and pin-point presumptive links to obesity. The knowledge and the hypotheses generated herein lay a foundation for subsequent, systematic research that will be paramount for the design of "smart" dietary and therapeutic interventions to modulate host-microbe metabolic co-regulation in intestinal homeostasis.
Host-associated microbiota varies in distribution depending on the body area inhabited. Gut microbes are known to interact with the human immune system, maintaining gut homoeostasis. Thus, we studied whether secreted-IgA (S-IgA) coat specific microbial taxa without inducing strong immune responses. To do so, we fractionated gut microbiota by flow cytometry. We found that active and S-IgA-coated bacterial fractions were characterized by a higher diversity than those observed in raw faecal suspensions. A long-tail effect was observed in family distribution, revealing that rare bacteria represent up to 20% of total diversity. While Firmicutes was the most abundant phylum, the majority of its sequences were not assigned at the genus level. Finally, the single-cell-based approach enabled us to focus on active and S-IgA-coated bacteria. Thus, we revealed a microbiota core common to the healthy volunteers participating in the study. Interestingly, this core was composed mainly of low frequency taxa (e.g. Sphingomonadaceae).
The irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder with a largely unknown aetiology and a wide range of symptoms. Most cross-sectional studies carried out so far suggest subtle alterations in the structure of the intestinal microbiota that are barely reproduced, partly because of the high inter-subject variation in the community composition and disorder-specific features. We performed a longitudinal study to explore the within-subject variation in the faecal microbiota in two patients with IBS classified into the diarrhoea subtype and the healthy spouse of one of them. Faecal communities were monitored over 6-8 weeks and analysed through metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches. We found a higher temporal instability in the fraction of active microbiota related to the IBS condition and fluctuating symptoms. Strong and quick shifts in the distribution of the active microbiota and changes in the global pattern of gene expression were detected in association with acute diarrhoea, whereas microbial composition and encoded functions were more stable. The specific alterations in the microbiota were barely reproduced within and between patients. Further research is needed to assess whether these changes are a consequence of the abnormal gut function in acute diarrhoeic episodes and the potential usefulness of tackling them.
Many insect species have established long-term symbiotic relationships with intracellular bacteria. Symbiosis with bacteria has provided insects with novel ecological capabilities, which have allowed them colonize previously unexplored niches. Despite its importance to the understanding of the emergence of biological complexity, the evolution of symbiotic relationships remains hitherto a mystery in evolutionary biology. In this study, we contribute to the investigation of the evolutionary leaps enabled by mutualistic symbioses by sequencing the genome of Blattabacterium cuenoti, primary endosymbiont of the omnivorous cockroach Blatta orientalis, and one of the most ancient symbiotic associations. We perform comparative analyses between the Blattabacterium cuenoti genome and that of previously sequenced endosymbionts, namely those from the omnivorous hosts the Blattella germanica (Blattelidae) and Periplaneta americana (Blattidae), and the endosymbionts harbored by two wood-feeding hosts, the subsocial cockroach Cryptocercus punctulatus (Cryptocercidae) and the termite Mastotermes darwiniensis (Termitidae). Our study shows a remarkable evolutionary stasis of this symbiotic system throughout the evolutionary history of cockroaches and the deepest branching termite M. darwiniensis, in terms of not only chromosome architecture but also gene content, as revealed by the striking conservation of the Blattabacterium core genome. Importantly, the architecture of central metabolic network inferred from the endosymbiont genomes was established very early in Blattabacterium evolutionary history and could be an outcome of the essential role played by this endosymbiont in the hosts nitrogen economy.
In all branches of life there are plenty of symbiotic associations. Insects are particularly well suited to establishing intracellular symbiosis with bacteria, providing them with metabolic capabilities they lack. Essential primary endosymbionts can coexist with facultative secondary symbionts which can, eventually, establish metabolic complementation with the primary endosymbiont, becoming a co-primary. Usually, both endosymbionts maintain their cellular identity. An exception is the endosymbiosis found in mealybugs of the subfamily Pseudoccinae, such as Planococcus citri, with Moranella endobia located inside Tremblaya princeps.
The human intestinal microbiota performs many essential functions for the host. Antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics (AB), are also known to disturb microbial community equilibrium, thereby having an impact on human physiology. While an increasing number of studies investigate the effects of AB usage on changes in human gut microbiota biodiversity, its functional effects are still poorly understood. We performed a follow-up study to explore the effect of ABs with different modes of action on human gut microbiota composition and function. Four individuals were treated with different antibiotics and samples were taken before, during and after the AB course for all of them. Changes in the total and in the active (growing) microbiota as well as the functional changes were addressed by 16S rRNA gene and metagenomic 454-based pyrosequencing approaches. We have found that the class of antibiotic, particularly its antimicrobial effect and mode of action, played an important role in modulating the gut microbiota composition and function. Furthermore, analysis of the resistome suggested that oscillatory dynamics are not only due to antibiotic-target resistance, but also to fluctuations in the surviving bacterial community. Our results indicated that the effect of AB on the human gut microbiota relates to the interaction of several factors, principally the properties of the antimicrobial agent, and the structure, functions and resistance genes of the microbial community.
Many insects maintain intracellular mutualistic symbiosis with a wide range of bacteria which are considered essential for their survival (primary or P-endosymbiont) and typically suffer drastic genome degradation. Progressive loss of P-endosymbiont metabolic capabilities could lead to the recruitment of co-existent facultative endosymbiont (secondary or S-endosymbiont), thus adding more complexity to the symbiotic system. Planococcus citri, among other mealybug species, harbors an unconventional nested endosymbiotic system where every Tremblaya princeps cell (?-proteobacterium) harbors many Moranella endobia cells (?-proteobacterium). In this system, T. princeps possess one of the smallest prokaryote genome known so far. This extreme genome reduction suggests the supply of many metabolites and essential gene products by M. endobia. Although sporadic cell lysis is plausible, the bacterial participation on the regulation of the predicted molecular exchange (at least to some extent) cannot be excluded. Although the comprehensive analysis of the protein translocation ability of M. endobia PCVAL rules out the existence of specific mechanisms for the exportation of proteins from M. endobia to T. princeps, immunolocation of two M. endobia proteins points towards a non-massive but controlled protein provision. We propose a sporadic pattern for the predicted protein exportation events, which could be putatively controlled by the host and/or mediated by local osmotic stress.
In the last decade, an extensive effort has been made to characterize the human microbiota, due to its clinical and economic interests. However, a metagenomic approach to the skin microbiota is hampered by the high proportion of host DNA that is recovered. In contrast with the burgeoning field of gut metagenomics, skin metagenomics has been hindered by the absence of an efficient method to avoid sequencing the host DNA. We present here a method for recovering microbial DNA from skin samples, based on a combination of molecular techniques. We have applied this method to mouse skin, and have validated it by standard, quantitative PCR and amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA. The taxonomic diversity recovered was not altered by this new method, as proved by comparing the phylogenetic structure revealed by 16S rRNA sequencing in untreated vs. treated samples. As proof of concept, we also present the first two mouse skin metagenomes, which allowed discovering new taxa (not only prokaryotes but also viruses and eukaryots) not reachable by 16S rRNA sequencing, as well as to characterize the skin microbiome functional landscape. Our method paves the way for the development of skin metagenomics, which will allow a much deeper knowledge of the skin microbiome and its relationship with the host, both in a healthy state and in relation to disease.
Acidaminococcus intestini belongs to the family Acidaminococcaceae, order Selenomonadales, class Negativicutes, phylum Firmicutes. Negativicutes show the double-membrane system of Gram-negative bacteria, although their chromosomal backbone is closely related to that of Gram-positive bacteria of the phylum Firmicutes. The complete genome of a clinical A. intestini strain is here presented.
Cockroaches (Blattaria: Dictyoptera) harbor the endosymbiont Blattabacterium sp. in their abdominal fat body. This endosymbiont is involved in nitrogen recycling and amino acid provision to its host. In this study, the genome of Blattabacterium sp. of Cryptocercus punctulatus (BCpu) was sequenced and compared with those of the symbionts of Blattella germanica and Periplaneta americana, BBge and BPam, respectively. The BCpu genome consists of a chromosome of 605.7 kb and a plasmid of 3.8 kb and is therefore approximately 31 kb smaller than the other two aforementioned genomes. The size reduction is due to the loss of 55 genes, 23 of which belong to biosynthetic pathways for amino acids. The pathways for the production of tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine/threonine/valine, methionine, and cysteine have been completely lost. Additionally, the genes for the enzymes catalyzing the last steps of arginine and lysine biosynthesis, argH and lysA, were found to be missing and pseudogenized, respectively. These gene losses render BCpu auxotrophic for nine amino acids more than those corresponding to BBge and BPam. BCpu has also lost capacities for sulfate reduction, production of heme groups, as well as genes for several other unlinked metabolic processes, and genes present in BBge and BPam in duplicates. Amino acids and cofactors that are not synthesized by BCpu are either produced in abundance by hindgut microbiota or are provisioned via a copious diet of dampwood colonized by putrefying microbiota, supplying host and Blattabacterium symbiont with the necessary nutrients and thus permitting genome economization of BCpu.
The recent colonization of America by Drosophila subobscura represents a great opportunity for evolutionary biology studies. Knowledge of the populations from which the colonization started would provide an understanding of how genetic composition changed during adaptation to the new environment. Thus, a 793 nucleotide fragment of the Odh (Octanol dehydrogenase) gene was sequenced in 66 chromosomal lines from Barcelona (western Mediterranean) and in 66 from Mt. Parnes (Greece, eastern Mediterranean). No sequence of Odh fragment in Barcelona or Mt. Parnes was identical to any of those previously detected in America. However, an Odh sequence from Barcelona differed in only one nucleotide from another found in American populations. In both cases, the chromosomal lines presented the same inversion: O(7), and the Odh gene was located within this inversion. This evidence suggests a possible western Mediterranean origin for the colonization. Finally, the molecular and inversion data indicate that the colonization was not characterized by multiple reintroductions.
The sequence of the genome of "Candidatus Tremblaya princeps" strain PCVAL, the primary endosymbiont of the citrus mealybug Planococcus citri, has been determined. "Ca. Tremblaya princeps" presents an unusual nested endosymbiosis and harbors a gammaproteobacterial symbiont within its cytoplasm in all analyzed mealybugs. The genome sequence reveals that "Ca. Tremblaya princeps" cannot be considered an independent organism but that the consortium with its gammaproteobacterial symbiotic associate represents a new composite living being.
Aphids are a serious threat to agriculture, despite being a rather small group of insects. The about 4,000 species worldwide engage in highly interesting and complex relationships with their microbial fauna. One of the key symbionts in arthropods is Wolbachia, an ?-Proteobacterium implicated in many important biological processes and believed to be a potential tool for biological control. Aphids were thought not to harbour Wolbachia; however, current data suggest that its presence in aphids has been missed, probably due to the low titre of the infection and/or to the high divergence of the Wolbachia strains of aphids. The goal of the present study is to map the Wolbachia infection status of natural aphids populations, along with the characterization of the detected Wolbachia strains. Out of 425 samples from Spain, Portugal, Greece, Israel and Iran, 37 were found to be infected. Our results, based mainly on 16S rRNA gene sequencing, indicate the presence of two new Wolbachia supergroups prevailing in aphids, along with some strains belonging either to supergroup B or to supergroup A.
We describe the gut bacterial diversity inhabiting two saprophagous syrphids and their breeding substrate (decayed tissues of the columnar cactus Isolatocereus dumortieri). We analyzed the gut microbiota of Copestylum latum (scooping larvae that feed on decayed cactus tissues) and Copestylum limbipenne (whose larvae can also feed on semiliquid tissues) using molecular techniques. DNA was extracted from larval guts and cactus tissues. The V1-V3 region of the 16S rRNA genes was amplified and sequenced. A total of 31,079 sequences were obtained. The main findings are: C. limbipenne is dominated by several Enterobacteriaceae, including putative nitrogen-fixing genera and pectinolitic species and some denitrifying species, whereas in C. latum unclassified Gammaproteobacteria predominate. Decayed tissues have a dominant lactic acid bacterial community. The bacterial communities were more similar between larval species than between each larva and its breeding substrate. The results suggest that the gut bacterial community in these insects is not strongly affected by diet and must be dependent on other factors, such as vertical transmission, evolutionary history and host innate immunity.
Buchnera aphidicola is an obligate symbiotic bacterium that sustains the physiology of aphids by complementing their exclusive phloem sap diet. In this study, we reappraised the transport function of different Buchnera strains, from the aphids Acyrthosiphon pisum, Schizaphis graminum, Baizongia pistaciae and Cinara cedri, using the re-annotation of their transmembrane proteins coupled with an exploration of their metabolic networks. Although metabolic analyses revealed high interdependencies between the host and the bacteria, we demonstrate here that transport in Buchnera is assured by low transporter diversity, when compared to free-living bacteria, being mostly based on a few general transporters, some of which probably have lost their substrate specificity. Moreover, in the four strains studied, an astonishing lack of inner-membrane importers was observed. In Buchnera, the transport function has been shaped by the distinct selective constraints occurring in the Aphididae lineages. Buchnera from A. pisum and S. graminum have a three-membraned system and similar sets of transporters corresponding to most compound classes. Transmission electronic microscopic observations and confocal microscopic analysis of intracellular pH fields revealed that Buchnera does not show any of the typical structures and properties observed in integrated organelles. Buchnera from B. pistaciae seem to possess a unique double membrane system and has, accordingly, lost all of its outer-membrane integral proteins. Lastly, Buchnera from C. cedri revealed an extremely poor repertoire of transporters, with almost no ATP-driven active transport left, despite the clear persistence of the ancestral three-membraned system.
The initiation of the intracellular symbiosis that would give rise to mitochondria and eukaryotes was a major event in the history of life on earth. Hypotheses to explain eukaryogenesis fall into two broad and competing categories: those proposing that the host was a phagocytotic proto-eukaryote that preyed upon the free-living mitochondrial ancestor (hereafter FMA), and those proposing that the host was an archaebacterium that engaged in syntrophy with the FMA. Of key importance to these hypotheses are whether the FMA was motile or nonmotile, and the atmospheric conditions under which the FMA thrived. Reconstructions of the FMA based on genome content of Rickettsiales representatives-generally considered to be the closest living relatives of mitochondria-indicate that it was nonmotile and aerobic. We have sequenced the genome of Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii, a novel and phylogenetically divergent member of the Rickettsiales. We found that it possesses unique gene sets found in no other Rickettsiales, including 26 genes associated with flagellar assembly, and a cbb(3)-type cytochrome oxidase. Phylogenomic analyses show that these genes were inherited in a vertical fashion from an ancestral ?-proteobacterium, and indicate that the FMA possessed a flagellum, and could undergo oxidative phosphorylation under both aerobic and microoxic conditions. These results indicate that the FMA played a more active and potentially parasitic role in eukaryogenesis than currently appreciated and provide an explanation for how the symbiosis could have evolved under low levels of oxygen.
The genome sequencing of Buchnera aphidicola BCc from the aphid Cinara cedri, which is the smallest known Buchnera genome, revealed that this bacterium had lost its symbiotic role, as it was not able to synthesize tryptophan and riboflavin. Moreover, the biosynthesis of tryptophan is shared with the endosymbiont Serratia symbiotica SCc, which coexists with B. aphidicola in this aphid. The whole-genome sequencing of S. symbiotica SCc reveals an endosymbiont in a stage of genome reduction that is closer to an obligate endosymbiont, such as B. aphidicola from Acyrthosiphon pisum, than to another S. symbiotica, which is a facultative endosymbiont in this aphid, and presents much less gene decay. The comparison between both S. symbiotica enables us to propose an evolutionary scenario of the transition from facultative to obligate endosymbiont. Metabolic inferences of B. aphidicola BCc and S. symbiotica SCc reveal that most of the functions carried out by B. aphidicola in A. pisum are now either conserved in B. aphidicola BCc or taken over by S. symbiotica. In addition, there are several cases of metabolic complementation giving functional stability to the whole consortium and evolutionary preservation of the actors involved.
The symbiotic association between aphids (Homoptera) and Buchnera aphidicola (Gammaproteobacteria) started about 100 to 200 million years ago. As a consequence of this relationship, the bacterial genome has undergone a prominent size reduction. The downsize genome process starts when the bacterium enters the host and will probably end with its extinction and replacement by another healthier bacterium or with the establishment of metabolic complementation between two or more bacteria. Nowadays, several complete genomes of Buchnera aphidicola from four different aphid species (Acyrthosiphon pisum, Schizaphis graminum, Baizongia pistacea, and Cinara cedri) have been fully sequenced. C. cedri belongs to the subfamily Lachninae and harbors two coprimary bacteria that fulfill the metabolic needs of the whole consortium: B. aphidicola with the smallest genome reported so far and "Candidatus Serratia symbiotica." In addition, Cinara tujafilina, another member of the subfamily Lachninae, closely related to C. cedri, also harbors "Ca. Serratia symbiotica" but with a different phylogenetic status than the one from C. cedri. In this study, we present the complete genome sequence of B. aphidicola from C. tujafilina and the phylogenetic analysis and comparative genomics with the other Buchnera genomes. Furthermore, the gene repertoire of the last common ancestor has been inferred, and the evolutionary history of the metabolic losses that occurred in the different lineages has been analyzed. Although stochastic gene loss plays a role in the genome reduction process, it is also clear that metabolism, as a functional constraint, is also a powerful evolutionary force in insect endosymbionts.
The human gut microbiota is considered one of the most fascinating reservoirs of microbial diversity hosting between 400 to 1000 bacterial species distributed among nine phyla with Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria representing around 75% of the diversity. One of the most intriguing issues relates to understanding which microbial groups are active players in the maintenance of the microbiota homeostasis.Here, we describe the diversity of active microbial fractions compared with the whole community from raw human fecal samples. We studied four healthy volunteers by 16S rDNA gene pyrosequencing. The fractions were obtained by cell sorting based on bacterial RNA concentration. Bacterial families were observed to appear or disappear on applying a cell sorting method in which flow cytometry was used to evaluate the active cells by pyronin-Y staining of RNA. This method was able to detect active bacteria, indicating that the active players differed from that observed in raw fecal material. Generally, observations showed that in the active fractions, the number of reads related to Bacteroidetes decreased whereas several families from Clostridiales (Firmicutes) were more highly represented. Moreover, a huge number of families appeared as part of the active fraction when cell sorting was applied, indicating reads that are simply statistically hidden by the total reads.
Since the establishment of the symbiosis between the ancestor of modern aphids and their primary endosymbiont, Buchnera aphidicola, insects and bacteria have coevolved. Due to this parallel evolution, the analysis of bacterial genomic features constitutes a useful tool to understand their evolutionary history. Here we report, based on data from B. aphidicola, the molecular evolutionary analysis, the phylogenetic relationships among lineages and a comparison of sequence evolutionary rates of symbionts of four aphid species from three subfamilies. Our results support previous hypotheses of divergence of B. aphidicola and their host lineages during the early Cretaceous and indicate a closer relationship between subfamilies Eriosomatinae and Lachninae than with the Aphidinae. They also reveal a general evolutionary pattern among strains at the functional level. We also point out the effect of lifecycle and generation time as a possible explanation for the accelerated rate in B. aphidicola from the Lachninae.
The human gut is the natural habitat for a large and dynamic bacterial community that has a great relevance for health. Metagenomics is increasing our knowledge of gene content as well as of functional and genetic variability in this microbiome. However, little is known about the active bacteria and their function(s) in the gastrointestinal tract. We performed a metatranscriptomic study on ten healthy volunteers to elucidate the active members of the gut microbiome and their functionality under conditions of health. First, the microbial cDNAs obtained from each sample were sequenced using 454 technology. The analysis of 16S transcripts showed the phylogenetic structure of the active microbial community. Lachnospiraceae, Ruminococcaceae, Bacteroidaceae, Prevotellaceae, and Rickenellaceae were the predominant families detected in the active microbiota. The characterization of mRNAs revealed a uniform functional pattern in healthy individuals. The main functional roles of the gut microbiota were carbohydrate metabolism, energy production and synthesis of cellular components. In contrast, housekeeping activities such as amino acid and lipid metabolism were underrepresented in the metatranscriptome. Our results provide new insights into the functionality of the complex gut microbiota in healthy individuals. In this RNA-based survey, we also detected small RNAs, which are important regulatory elements in prokaryotic physiology and pathogenicity.
This article introduces the second release of the Gypsy Database of Mobile Genetic Elements (GyDB 2.0): a research project devoted to the evolutionary dynamics of viruses and transposable elements based on their phylogenetic classification (per lineage and protein domain). The Gypsy Database (GyDB) is a long-term project that is continuously progressing, and that owing to the high molecular diversity of mobile elements requires to be completed in several stages. GyDB 2.0 has been powered with a wiki to allow other researchers participate in the project. The current database stage and scope are long terminal repeats (LTR) retroelements and relatives. GyDB 2.0 is an update based on the analysis of Ty3/Gypsy, Retroviridae, Ty1/Copia and Bel/Pao LTR retroelements and the Caulimoviridae pararetroviruses of plants. Among other features, in terms of the aforementioned topics, this update adds: (i) a variety of descriptions and reviews distributed in multiple web pages; (ii) protein-based phylogenies, where phylogenetic levels are assigned to distinct classified elements; (iii) a collection of multiple alignments, lineage-specific hidden Markov models and consensus sequences, called GyDB collection; (iv) updated RefSeq databases and BLAST and HMM servers to facilitate sequence characterization of new LTR retroelement and caulimovirus queries; and (v) a bibliographic server. GyDB 2.0 is available at http://gydb.org.
Gut microbiota is the most complex bacterial community in the human body and its study may give important clues to the etiology of different intestinal diseases. Most studies carried out so far have used fecal samples, assuming that these samples have a similar distribution to the communities present throughout the colon. The present study was designed to test this assumption by comparing samples from the rectal mucosa and feces of nine healthy volunteers by sequencing libraries of 16S rRNA genes. At the family taxonomic level, where rarefaction curves indicate that the observed number of taxa is close to the expected one, we observe under different statistical analyses that fecal and mucosal samples cluster separately. The same is found at the level of species considering phylogenetic information. Consequently, it cannot be stated that both samples from a given individual are of similar composition. We believe that the evidence in support of this statement is strong and that it would not change by increasing the number of individuals and/or performing massive sequencing. We do not expect clinicians to stop using feces for research, but we think it is important to caution them on their potential lack of representativeness with respect to the bacterial biofilm on the rectal mucosa.
Legionella pneumophila subsp. pneumophila is a gram-negative gamma-Proteobacterium and the causative agent of Legionnaires disease, a form of epidemic pneumonia. It has a water-related life cycle. In industrialized cities L. pneumophila is commonly encountered in refrigeration towers and water pipes. Infection is always via infected aerosols to humans. Although many efforts have been made to eradicate Legionella from buildings, it still contaminates the water systems. The town of Alcoy (Valencian Region, Spain) has had recurrent outbreaks since 1999. The strain "Alcoy 2300/99" is a particularly persistent and recurrent strain that was isolated during one of the most significant outbreaks between the years 1999-2000.
Recent genomic analyses of arthropod defense mechanisms suggest conservation of key elements underlying responses to pathogens, parasites and stresses. At the center of pathogen-induced immune responses are signaling pathways triggered by the recognition of fungal, bacterial and viral signatures. These pathways result in the production of response molecules, such as antimicrobial peptides and lysozymes, which degrade or destroy invaders. Using the recently sequenced genome of the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum), we conducted the first extensive annotation of the immune and stress gene repertoire of a hemipterous insect, which is phylogenetically distantly related to previously characterized insects models.
Endosymbiotic bacteria play a vital role in the evolution of many insect species. For instance, endosymbionts have evolved metabolically to complement their hosts natural diet, thereby enabling them to explore new habitats. In this paper, we will review and give some examples of the nature of the metabolic coupling of different primary and secondary endosymbionts that have evolved in hosts with different nutritional diets (i.e., phloem, xylem, blood, omnivores, and grain). Particular emphasis is given to the evolutionary functional convergence of phylogenetically distant endosymbionts, which are evolving in hosts with similar diets.
Bacterial endosymbionts of insects play a central role in upgrading the diet of their hosts. In certain cases, such as aphids and tsetse flies, endosymbionts complement the metabolic capacity of hosts living on nutrient-deficient diets, while the bacteria harbored by omnivorous carpenter ants are involved in nitrogen recycling. In this study, we describe the genome sequence and inferred metabolism of Blattabacterium strain Bge, the primary Flavobacteria endosymbiont of the omnivorous German cockroach Blattella germanica. Through comparative genomics with other insect endosymbionts and free-living Flavobacteria we reveal that Blattabacterium strain Bge shares the same distribution of functional gene categories only with Blochmannia strains, the primary Gamma-Proteobacteria endosymbiont of carpenter ants. This is a remarkable example of evolutionary convergence during the symbiotic process, involving very distant phylogenetic bacterial taxa within hosts feeding on similar diets. Despite this similarity, different nitrogen economy strategies have emerged in each case. Both bacterial endosymbionts code for urease but display different metabolic functions: Blochmannia strains produce ammonia from dietary urea and then use it as a source of nitrogen, whereas Blattabacterium strain Bge codes for the complete urea cycle that, in combination with urease, produces ammonia as an end product. Not only does the cockroach endosymbiont play an essential role in nutrient supply to the host, but also in the catabolic use of amino acids and nitrogen excretion, as strongly suggested by the stoichiometric analysis of the inferred metabolic network. Here, we explain the metabolic reasons underlying the enigmatic return of cockroaches to the ancestral ammonotelic state.
Recent technical and conceptual advances in the biological sciences opened the possibility of the construction of newly designed cells. In this paper we review the state of the art of cell engineering in the context of genome research, paying particular attention to what we can learn on naturally reduced genomes from either symbiotic or free living bacteria. Different minimal hypothetically viable cells can be defined on the basis of several computational and experimental approaches. Projects aiming at simplifying living cells converge with efforts to make synthetic genomes for minimal cells. The panorama of this particular view of synthetic biology lead us to consider the use of defined minimal cells to be applied in biomedical, bioremediation, or bioenergy application by taking advantage of existing naturally minimized cells.
Antibiotic (AB) usage strongly affects microbial intestinal metabolism and thereby impacts human health. Understanding this process and the underlying mechanisms remains a major research goal. Accordingly, we conducted the first comparative omic investigation of gut microbial communities in faecal samples taken at multiple time points from an individual subjected to ?-lactam therapy.
The genome of "Candidatus Portiera aleyrodidarum," the primary endosymbiont of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Mediterranean species), is reported. It presents a reduced genome (357 kb) encoding the capability to synthetize, or participate in the synthesis of, several amino acids and carotenoids, being the first insect endosymbiont capable of supplying carotenoids.
Symbiosis is a widespread phenomenon in nature, in which insects show a great number of these associations. Buchnera aphidicola, the obligate endosymbiont of aphids, coexists in some species with another intracellular bacterium, Serratia symbiotica. Of particular interest is the case of the cedar aphid Cinara cedri, where B. aphidicola BCc and S. symbiotica SCc need each other to fulfil their symbiotic role with the insect. Moreover, various features seem to indicate that S. symbiotica SCc is closer to an obligate endosymbiont than to other facultative S. symbiotica, such as the one described for the aphid Acirthosyphon pisum (S. symbiotica SAp). This work is based on the comparative genomics of five strains of Serratia, three free-living and two endosymbiotic ones (one facultative and one obligate) which should allow us to dissect the genome reduction taking place in the adaptive process to an intracellular life-style. Using a pan-genome approach, we have identified shared and strain-specific genes from both endosymbiotic strains and gained insight into the different genetic reduction both S. symbiotica have undergone. We have identified both retained and reduced functional categories in S. symbiotica compared to the Free-Living Serratia (FLS) that seem to be related with its endosymbiotic role in their specific host-symbiont systems. By means of a phylogenomic reconstruction we have solved the position of both endosymbionts with confidence, established the probable insect-pathogen origin of the symbiotic clade as well as the high amino-acid substitution rate in S. symbiotica SCc. Finally, we were able to quantify the minimal number of rearrangements suffered in the endosymbiotic lineages and reconstruct a minimal rearrangement phylogeny. All these findings provide important evidence for the existence of at least two distinctive S. symbiotica lineages that are characterized by different rearrangements, gene content, genome size and branch lengths.
Host-commensal relationships in the skin are a complex system governed by variables related to the host, the bacteria and the environment. A disruption of this system may lead to new steady states, which, in turn, may lead to disease. We have studied one such disruption by characterizing the skin microbiota in healthy and immunodepressed (ID) mice. A detailed anatomopathological study failed to reveal any difference between the skin of healthy and ID mice. We sequenced the 16S rDNA V1-V2 gene region to saturation in 10 healthy and 10 ID 8 week-old mice, and found than all of the healthy and two of the ID mice had bacterial communities that were similar in composition to that of human skin, although, presumably because of the uniform raising conditions, less interindividual variation was found in mice. However, eight ID mice showed microbiota dominated by Staphylococcus epidermidis. Quantitative PCR amplification of 16S rDNA gene and of the Staphylococcus-specific TstaG region confirmed the previous results and indicated that the quantitative levels of Staphylococcus were similar in both groups while the total number of 16S copies was greater in the healthy mice. Thus, it is possible that, under long-term immunodeficiency, which removes the acquired but not the native immune system, S.epidermidis may inhibit the growth of other bacteria but does not cause a pathogenic state.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder in western countries. Previous studies on IBS, mostly based on faecal samples, suggest alterations in the intestinal microbiota. However, no consensus has been reached regarding the association between specific bacteria and IBS. We explore the alterations of intestinal bacterial communities in IBS using massive sequencing of amplified 16S rRNA genes. Mucosal biopsies of the ascending and descending colon and faeces from 16 IBS patients and 9 healthy controls were analysed. Strong inter-individual variation was observed in the composition of the bacterial communities in both patients and controls. These communities showed less diversity in IBS cases. There were larger differences in the microbiota composition between biopsies and faeces than between patients and controls. We found a few over-represented and under-represented taxa in IBS cases with respect to controls. The detected alterations varied by site, with no changes being consistent across sample types.
In the last decade, an extensive effort has been made to characterize the human intestinal microbiota by means of SSU rRNA gene sequence and metagenomic analysis. Relatively few studies have followed intestinal bacterial communities over time to assess their stability in the absence of perturbation. In this study, we have monitored the faecal bacteria of three healthy subjects during 15 consecutive days. The global community structure was analysed through SSU rRNA gene sequencing. In agreement with previous studies, we found that the between-subject variation in community structure was larger than within. The composition was fairly stable throughout, although daily fluctuations were detected for all genera and phylotypes at 97% of sequence identity. While the core shared between subjects was very small, each subject harboured a stable high-abundance core composed of a small number of bacterial groups (9% of the phylotypes accounted for between 74% and 93% of the sequences). This may suggest that studies aimed at linking the microbiota composition with disease risk should be limited to the numerically most dominant phylotypes, as the rest appears transient. Networks of potential interactions between co-occurring genera were also subject-specific, even for the same bacterial genus, which might be reflecting host-specific selective pressures and historic events.
BACKGROUND: Cockroaches are terrestrial insects that strikingly eliminate waste nitrogen as ammonia instead of uric acid. Blattabacterium cuenoti (Mercier 1906) strains Bge and Pam are the obligate primary endosymbionts of the cockroaches Blattella germanica and Periplaneta americana, respectively. The genomes of both bacterial endosymbionts have recently been sequenced, making possible a genome-scale constraint-based reconstruction of their metabolic networks. The mathematical expression of a metabolic network and the subsequent quantitative studies of phenotypic features by Flux Balance Analysis (FBA) represent an efficient functional approach to these uncultivable bacteria. RESULTS: We report the metabolic models of Blattabacterium strains Bge (iCG238) and Pam (iCG230), comprising 296 and 289 biochemical reactions, associated with 238 and 230 genes, and 364 and 358 metabolites, respectively. Both models reflect both the striking similarities and the singularities of these microorganisms. FBA was used to analyze the properties, potential and limits of the models, assuming some environmental constraints such as aerobic conditions and the net production of ammonia from these bacterial systems, as has been experimentally observed. In addition, in silico simulations with the iCG238 model have enabled a set of carbon and nitrogen sources to be defined, which would also support a viable phenotype in terms of biomass production in the strain Pam, which lacks the first three steps of the tricarboxylic acid cycle. FBA reveals a metabolic condition that renders these enzymatic steps dispensable, thus offering a possible evolutionary explanation for their elimination. We also confirm, by computational simulations, the fragility of the metabolic networks and their host dependence. CONCLUSIONS: The minimized Blattabacterium metabolic networks are surprisingly similar in strains Bge and Pam, after 140 million years of evolution of these endosymbionts in separate cockroach lineages. FBA performed on the reconstructed networks from the two bacteria helps to refine the functional analysis of the genomes enabling us to postulate how slightly different host metabolic contexts drove their parallel evolution.
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