Mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley, is a sap-sucking hemipteran insect. It is an agricultural pest that is now widely distributed in India. In this study we report the presence of Rickettsia from P. solenopsis. We constructed a 16S rRNA gene library to study the bacterial diversity associated with this insect and we found that all the clones from the library were only of Candidatus Tremblaya phenacola. This study also highlights that the normal protocol adopted to study the bacterial diversity from environmental sample, by preparation of a 16S rRNA gene library, does not work when the bacterial population is highly skewed in favor of one bacteria (primary endosymbiont in this case). Hence, we used bacterial genus specific polymerase chain reaction primers to test the presence of any of the widely known secondary endosymbionts associated with insects. We tested for the presence of Cardinium, Rickettsia, Wolbachia, and Arsenophonus in P. solenopsis collected from 10 different locations across India. Only Rickettsia was detected from four locations while we were not able to find any other bacteria. We confirmed the presence of these bacteria by localizing Rickettsia and the primary endosmbiont, Candidatus Tremblaya sp. to the bacteriocyte of P. solenopsis using fluorescent in situ hybridization.
Bemisia tabaci is the major vector pest of agricultural crops all over the world. In this study we report the different bacterial endosymbionts associated with B. tabaci sampled from 14 different locations in North India. Using 16S rDNA clone library sequences we were able to identify Portiera, the primary endosymbiont of B. tabaci, and other secondary endosymbionts like Cardinium, Wolbachia, Rickettsia and Arsenophonus. Along with these we also detected Bacillus, Enterobacter, Paracoccus and Acinetobacter. These secondary endosymbionts were not uniformly distributed in all the locations. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rDNA sequences of Cardinium, Wolbachia, Rickettsia and Arsenophonus showed that each of these bacteria form a separate cluster when compared to their respective counterparts from other parts of the world. MtCO1 gene based phylogenetic analysis showed the presence of Asia I and Asia II genetic groups of B. tabaci in N. India. The multiple correspondence analyses showed no correlation between the host genetic group and the endosymbiont diversity. These results suggest that the bacterial endosymbiont diversity of B. tabaci is much larger and complex than previously perceived and probably N. Indian strains of the bacterial symbionts could have evolved from some other ancestor.
Cotton leaf curl virus (CLCuV) (Gemininiviridae: Begomovirus) is the causative agent of leaf curl disease in cotton plants (Gossypium hirsutum). CLCuV is exclusively transmitted by the whitefly species B. tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Alerodidae). B. tabaci contains several biotypes which harbor dissimilar bacterial endo-symbiotic community. It is reported that these bacterial endosymbionts produce a 63 kDa chaperon GroEL protein which binds to geminivirus particles and protects them from rapid degradation in gut and haemolymph. In biotype B, GroEL protein of Hamiltonella has been shown to interact with Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV). The present study was initiated to find out whether endosymbionts of B. tabaci are similarly involved in CLCuV transmission in Sriganganagar (Rajasthan), an area endemic with cotton leaf curl disease. Biotype and endosymbiont diversity of B. tabaci were identified using MtCO1 and 16S rDNA genes respectively. Analysis of our results indicated that the collected B. tabaci population belong to AsiaII genetic group and harbor the primary endosymbiont Portiera and the secondary endosymbiont Arsenophonus. The GroEL proteins of Portiera and Arsenophonus were purified and in-vitro interaction studies were carried out using pull down and co-immunoprecipitation assays. In-vivo interaction was confirmed using yeast two hybrid system. In both in-vitro and in-vivo studies, the GroEL protein of Arsenophonus was found to be interacting with the CLCuV coat protein. Further, we also localized the presence of Arsenophonus in the salivary glands and the midgut of B. tabaci besides the already reported bacteriocytes. These results suggest the involvement of Arsenophonus in the transmission of CLCuV in AsiaII genetic group of B. tabaci.
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