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2.  The Bactrocera dorsalis species complex: comparative cytogenetic analysis in support of Sterile Insect Technique applications 
BMC Genetics  2014;15(Suppl 2):S16.
Background
The Bactrocera dorsalis species complex currently harbors approximately 90 different members. The species complex has undergone many revisions in the past decades, and there is still an ongoing debate about the species limits. The availability of a variety of tools and approaches, such as molecular-genomic and cytogenetic analyses, are expected to shed light on the rather complicated issues of species complexes and incipient speciation. The clarification of genetic relationships among the different members of this complex is a prerequisite for the rational application of sterile insect technique (SIT) approaches for population control.
Results
Colonies established in the Insect Pest Control Laboratory (IPCL) (Seibersdorf, Vienna), representing five of the main economic important members of the Bactrocera dorsalis complex were cytologically characterized. The taxa under study were B. dorsalis s.s., B. philippinensis, B. papayae, B. invadens and B. carambolae. Mitotic and polytene chromosome analyses did not reveal any chromosomal characteristics that could be used to distinguish between the investigated members of the B. dorsalis complex. Therefore, their polytene chromosomes can be regarded as homosequential with the reference maps of B. dorsalis s.s.. In situ hybridization of six genes further supported the proposed homosequentiallity of the chromosomes of these specific members of the complex.
Conclusions
The present analysis supports that the polytene chromosomes of the five taxa under study are homosequential. Therefore, the use of the available polytene chromosome maps for B. dorsalis s.s. as reference maps for all these five biological entities is proposed. Present data provide important insight in the genetic relationships among the different members of the B. dorsalis complex, and, along with other studies in the field, can facilitate SIT applications targeting this complex. Moreover, the availability of 'universal' reference polytene chromosome maps for members of the complex, along with the documented application of in situ hybridization, can facilitate ongoing and future genome projects in this complex.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-15-S2-S16
PMCID: PMC4255788  PMID: 25471636
3.  Improving Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) for tsetse flies through research on their symbionts and pathogens 
Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) are the cyclical vectors of the trypanosomes, which cause human African trypanosomosis (HAT) or sleeping sickness in humans and African animal trypanosomosis (AAT) or nagana in animals. Due to the lack of effective vaccines and inexpensive drugs for HAT, and the development of resistance of the trypanosomes against the available trypanocidal drugs, vector control remains the most efficient strategy for sustainable management of these diseases. Among the control methods used for tsetse flies, Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), in the frame of area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM), represents an effective tactic to suppress and/or eradicate tsetse flies. One constraint in implementing SIT is the mass production of target species. Tsetse flies harbor obligate bacterial symbionts and salivary gland hypertrophy virus which modulate the fecundity of the infected flies. In support of the future expansion of the SIT for tsetse fly control, the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture implemented a six year Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled “Improving SIT for Tsetse Flies through Research on their Symbionts and Pathogens”. The consortium focused on the prevalence and the interaction between the bacterial symbionts and the virus, the development of strategies to manage virus infections in tsetse colonies, the use of entomopathogenic fungi to control tsetse flies in combination with SIT, and the development of symbiont-based strategies to control tsetse flies and trypanosomosis. The results of the CRP and the solutions envisaged to alleviate the constraints of the mass rearing of tsetse flies for SIT are presented in this special issue.
doi:10.1016/j.jip.2012.07.009
PMCID: PMC4242710  PMID: 22841636
Tsetse; Glossinidae; Salivary gland hypertrophy virus; SIT; Symbionts; Pathogens
4.  Wolbachia Infections and Mitochondrial Diversity of Two Chestnut Feeding Cydia Species 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112795.
Cydia splendana and C. fagiglandana are two closely related chestnut feeding lepidopteran moth species. In this study, we surveyed the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia in these two species. Infection rates were 31% in C. splendana and 77% in C. fagiglandana. MLST analysis showed that these two species are infected with two quite diverse Wolbachia strains. C. splendana with Sequence Type (ST) 409 from the A-supergroup and C. fagiglandana with ST 150 from the B-supergroup. One individual of C. splendana was infected with ST 150, indicating horizontal transfer between these sister species. The mitochondrial DNA of the two Cydia species showed a significantly different mtDNA diversity, which was inversely proportional to their infection rates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112795
PMCID: PMC4236127  PMID: 25405506
5.  Symbionts Commonly Provide Broad Spectrum Resistance to Viruses in Insects: A Comparative Analysis of Wolbachia Strains 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(9):e1004369.
In the last decade, bacterial symbionts have been shown to play an important role in protecting hosts against pathogens. Wolbachia, a widespread symbiont in arthropods, can protect Drosophila and mosquito species against viral infections. We have investigated antiviral protection in 19 Wolbachia strains originating from 16 Drosophila species after transfer into the same genotype of Drosophila simulans. We found that approximately half of the strains protected against two RNA viruses. Given that 40% of terrestrial arthropod species are estimated to harbour Wolbachia, as many as a fifth of all arthropods species may benefit from Wolbachia-mediated protection. The level of protection against two distantly related RNA viruses – DCV and FHV – was strongly genetically correlated, which suggests that there is a single mechanism of protection with broad specificity. Furthermore, Wolbachia is making flies resistant to viruses, as increases in survival can be largely explained by reductions in viral titer. Variation in the level of antiviral protection provided by different Wolbachia strains is strongly genetically correlated to the density of the bacteria strains in host tissues. We found no support for two previously proposed mechanisms of Wolbachia-mediated protection — activation of the immune system and upregulation of the methyltransferase Dnmt2. The large variation in Wolbachia's antiviral properties highlights the need to carefully select Wolbachia strains introduced into mosquito populations to prevent the transmission of arboviruses.
Author Summary
In recent years it has been discovered that many organisms are infected with bacterial symbionts that protect them against pathogens. Wolbachia is a bacterial symbiont that is found in many species of insects, and several strains are known to protect the insects against viral infection. We took 19 strains of Wolbachia from different species of Drosophila fruit flies, transferred them into Drosophila simulans, and then infected these flies with two different viruses. We found that about half of the strains slowed the death of flies after viral infection. Given that 40% of terrestrial arthropods may be infected with Wolbachia, this suggests that many species may benefit from this protection. These increases in survival were tightly linked to reductions in the levels of the virus in the insect, suggesting that Wolbachia is reducing the viruses' ability to replicate. Despite the two viruses we used being very different, the level of protection that a Wolbachia strain provided against the two viruses tended to be very similar, suggesting that a single general mechanism underlies the antiviral effects. The extent to which a Wolbachia strain provides protection against viral infection depends largely on the bacterial density— the more Wolbachia, the greater the protection.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004369
PMCID: PMC4169468  PMID: 25233341
6.  Microsatellite and Wolbachia analysis in Rhagoletis cerasi natural populations: population structuring and multiple infections 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1943-1962.
Rhagoletis cerasi (Diptera: Tephritidae) is a major pest of sweet and sour cherries in Europe and parts of Asia. Despite its economic significance, there is a lack of studies on the genetic structure of R. cerasi populations. Elucidating the genetic structure of insects of economic importance is crucial for developing phenological-predictive models and environmental friendly control methods. All natural populations of R. cerasi have been found to harbor the endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis, which widely affects multiple biological traits contributing to the evolution of its hosts, and has been suggested as a tool for the biological control of insect pests and disease vectors. In the current study, the analysis of 18 R. cerasi populations collected in Greece, Germany, and Russia using 13 microsatellite markers revealed structuring of R. cerasi natural populations, even at close geographic range. We also analyzed the Wolbachia infection status of these populations using 16S rRNA-, MLST- and wsp-based approaches. All 244 individuals screened were positive for Wolbachia. Our results suggest the fixation of the wCer1 strain in Greece while wCer2, wCer4, wCer5, and probably other uncharacterized strains were also detected in multiply infected individuals. The role of Wolbachia and its potential extended phenotypes needs a thorough investigation in R. cerasi. Our data suggest an involvement of this symbiont in the observed restriction in the gene flow in addition to a number of different ecological factors.
doi:10.1002/ece3.553
PMCID: PMC4063487  PMID: 24963388
Insect symbiosis; microsatellites; Rhagoletis cerasi; Tephritidae; Wolbachia
7.  Presence of Extensive Wolbachia Symbiont Insertions Discovered in the Genome of Its Host Glossina morsitans morsitans 
Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) are the cyclical vectors of Trypanosoma spp., which are unicellular parasites responsible for multiple diseases, including nagana in livestock and sleeping sickness in humans in Africa. Glossina species, including Glossina morsitans morsitans (Gmm), for which the Whole Genome Sequence (WGS) is now available, have established symbiotic associations with three endosymbionts: Wigglesworthia glossinidia, Sodalis glossinidius and Wolbachia pipientis (Wolbachia). The presence of Wolbachia in both natural and laboratory populations of Glossina species, including the presence of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events in a laboratory colony of Gmm, has already been shown. We herein report on the draft genome sequence of the cytoplasmic Wolbachia endosymbiont (cytWol) associated with Gmm. By in silico and molecular and cytogenetic analysis, we discovered and validated the presence of multiple insertions of Wolbachia (chrWol) in the host Gmm genome. We identified at least two large insertions of chrWol, 527,507 and 484,123 bp in size, from Gmm WGS data. Southern hybridizations confirmed the presence of Wolbachia insertions in Gmm genome, and FISH revealed multiple insertions located on the two sex chromosomes (X and Y), as well as on the supernumerary B-chromosomes. We compare the chrWol insertions to the cytWol draft genome in an attempt to clarify the evolutionary history of the HGT events. We discuss our findings in light of the evolution of Wolbachia infections in the tsetse fly and their potential impacts on the control of tsetse populations and trypanosomiasis.
Author Summary
African trypanosomes are transmitted to man and animals by tsetse fly, a blood sucking insect. Tsetse flies include all Glossina species with the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans (Gmm) being sequenced under the International Glossina Genome Initiative. The endosymbionts Wigglesworthia glossinidia, Sodalis glossinidius and Wolbachia pipientis (Wolbachia) have been found to establish symbiotic associations with Gmm. Wolbachia is known to be present in natural and laboratory populations of Glossina species. In this study we report the genome sequence of the Wolbachia strain that is associated with Gmm. With the aid of in silico and molecular and cytogenetic analyses, multiple insertions of the Wolbachia genome were revealed and confirmed in Gmm chromosome. Comparison of the cytoplasmic Wolbachia draft genome and the chromosomal insertions enabled us to infer the evolutionary history of the Wolbachia horizontal transfer events. These findings are discussed in relation to their impact on the development of Wolbachia-based strategies for the control of tsetse flies and trypanosomiasis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002728
PMCID: PMC3998919  PMID: 24763283
8.  The Microbiology of Olive Mill Wastes 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:784591.
Olive mill wastes (OMWs) are high-strength organic effluents, which upon disposal can degrade soil and water quality, negatively affecting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The main purpose of this review paper is to provide an up-to-date knowledge concerning the microbial communities identified over the past 20 years in olive mill wastes using both culture-dependent and independent approaches. A database survey of 16S rRNA gene sequences (585 records in total) obtained from olive mill waste environments revealed the dominance of members of Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. Independent studies confirmed that OMW microbial communities' structure is cultivar dependant. On the other hand, the detection of fecal bacteria and other potential human pathogens in OMWs is of major concern and deserves further examination. Despite the fact that the degradation and detoxification of the olive mill wastes have been mostly investigated through the application of known bacterial and fungal species originated from other environmental sources, the biotechnological potential of indigenous microbiota should be further exploited in respect to olive mill waste bioremediation and inactivation of plant and human pathogens. The implementation of omic and metagenomic approaches will further elucidate disposal issues of olive mill wastes.
doi:10.1155/2013/784591
PMCID: PMC3809369  PMID: 24199199
9.  Tsetse-Wolbachia symbiosis: Comes of age and has great potential for pest and disease control 
Journal of invertebrate pathology  2012;112(0):S94-103.
Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) are the sole vectors of African trypanosomes, the causative agent of sleeping sickness in human and nagana in animals. Like most eukaryotic organisms, Glossina species have established symbiotic associations with bacteria. Three main symbiotic bacteria have been found in tsetse flies: Wigglesworthia glossinidia, an obligate symbiotic bacterium, the secondary endosymbiont Sodalis glossinidius and the reproductive symbiont Wolbachia pipientis. In the present review, we discuss recent studies on the detection and characterization of Wolbachia infections in Glossina species, the horizontal transfer of Wolbachia genes to tsetse chromosomes, the ability of this symbiont to induce cytoplasmic incompatibility in Glossina morsitans morsitans and also how new environment-friendly tools for disease control could be developed by harnessing Wolbachia symbiosis.
doi:10.1016/j.jip.2012.05.010
PMCID: PMC3772542  PMID: 22835476
Glossina; Wolbachia; Insect symbiosis; Sodalis; Wigglesworthia; Paratransgenesis
10.  Transgenerational Transmission of the Glossina pallidipes Hytrosavirus Depends on the Presence of a Functional Symbiome 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61150.
The vertically transmitted endosymbionts (Sodalis glossinidius and Wigglesworthia glossinidia) of the tsetse fly (Diptera: Glossinidae) are known to supplement dietary deficiencies and modulate the reproductive fitness and the defense system of the fly. Some tsetse fly species are also infected with the bacterium, Wolbachia and with the Glossina hytrosavirus (GpSGHV). Laboratory-bred G. pallidipes exhibit chronic asymptomatic and acute symptomatic GpSGHV infection, with the former being the most common in these colonies. However, under as yet undefined conditions, the asymptomatic state can convert to the symptomatic state, leading to detectable salivary gland hypertrophy (SGH+) syndrome. In this study, we investigated the interplay between the bacterial symbiome and GpSGHV during development of G. pallidipes by knocking down the symbionts with antibiotic. Intrahaemocoelic injection of GpSGHV led to high virus titre (109 virus copies), but was not accompanied by either the onset of detectable SGH+, or release of detectable virus particles into the blood meals during feeding events. When the F1 generations of GpSGHV-challenged mothers were dissected within 24 h post-eclosion, SGH+ was observed to increase from 4.5% in the first larviposition cycle to >95% in the fourth cycle. Despite being sterile, these F1 SGH+ progeny mated readily. Removal of the tsetse symbiome, however, suppressed transgenerational transfer of the virus via milk secretions and blocked the ability of GpSGHV to infect salivary glands of the F1 progeny. Whereas GpSGHV infects and replicates in salivary glands of developing pupa, the virus is unable to induce SGH+ within fully differentiated adult salivary glands. The F1 SGH+ adults are responsible for the GpSGHV-induced colony collapse in tsetse factories. Our data suggest that GpSGHV has co-evolved with the tsetse symbiome and that the symbionts play key roles in the virus transmission from mother to progeny.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061150
PMCID: PMC3632566  PMID: 23613801
11.  Comparative Genomics of Wolbachia and the Bacterial Species Concept 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003381.
The importance of host-specialization to speciation processes in obligate host-associated bacteria is well known, as is also the ability of recombination to generate cohesion in bacterial populations. However, whether divergent strains of highly recombining intracellular bacteria, such as Wolbachia, can maintain their genetic distinctness when infecting the same host is not known. We first developed a protocol for the genome sequencing of uncultivable endosymbionts. Using this method, we have sequenced the complete genomes of the Wolbachia strains wHa and wNo, which occur as natural double infections in Drosophila simulans populations on the Seychelles and in New Caledonia. Taxonomically, wHa belong to supergroup A and wNo to supergroup B. A comparative genomics study including additional strains supported the supergroup classification scheme and revealed 24 and 33 group-specific genes, putatively involved in host-adaptation processes. Recombination frequencies were high for strains of the same supergroup despite different host-preference patterns, leading to genomic cohesion. The inferred recombination fragments for strains of different supergroups were of short sizes, and the genomes of the co-infecting Wolbachia strains wHa and wNo were not more similar to each other and did not share more genes than other A- and B-group strains that infect different hosts. We conclude that Wolbachia strains of supergroup A and B represent genetically distinct clades, and that strains of different supergroups can co-exist in the same arthropod host without converging into the same species. This suggests that the supergroups are irreversibly separated and that barriers other than host-specialization are able to maintain distinct clades in recombining endosymbiont populations. Acquiring a good knowledge of the barriers to genetic exchange in Wolbachia will advance our understanding of how endosymbiont communities are constructed from vertically and horizontally transmitted genes.
Author Summary
Speciation in sexual organisms is defined as the inability of two populations to get viable offspring. Speciation in asexual, obligate endosymbionts is thought to be an indirect consequence of host-specialization. An important question is if divergent endosymbionts would start blending if the host barrier isolating them were removed. Here, we have studied Wolbachia, an abundant group of bacteria in the insect world. Wolbachia is classified into supergroups based on multi-locus sequence typing. We have sequenced the genomes from the Wolbachia strains wNo and wHa. These are particularly interesting since they belong to different supergroups yet co-occur as a double-infection in natural populations of Drosophila simulans. A comparative genomics study showed that wHa and wNo contain no uniquely shared genes. Instead, each strain shares unique gene functions with members of the same supergroup that infect other hosts. This unexpected finding suggests an alternative means of ecological speciation, indicating that speciation is not restricted to host-specialization but rather that related endosymbionts can coexist as separate species in the same host. Our study sheds light on the genomic divergence between different partners inhabiting the intracellular niche of the same host organism.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003381
PMCID: PMC3616963  PMID: 23593012
12.  The Diversity and Evolution of Wolbachia Ankyrin Repeat Domain Genes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55390.
Ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes are common in the eukaryotic and viral domains of life, but they are rare in bacteria, the exception being a few obligate or facultative intracellular Proteobacteria species. Despite having a reduced genome, the arthropod strains of the alphaproteobacterium Wolbachia contain an unusually high number of ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes ranging from 23 in wMel to 60 in wPip strain. This group of genes has attracted considerable attention for their astonishing large number as well as for the fact that ankyrin proteins are known to participate in protein-protein interactions, suggesting that they play a critical role in the molecular mechanism that determines host-Wolbachia symbiotic interactions. We present a comparative evolutionary analysis of the wMel-related ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes present in different Drosophila-Wolbachia associations. Our results show that the ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes change in size by expansion and contraction mediated by short directly repeated sequences. We provide examples of intra-genic recombination events and show that these genes are likely to be horizontally transferred between strains with the aid of bacteriophages. These results confirm previous findings that the Wolbachia genomes are evolutionary mosaics and illustrate the potential that these bacteria have to generate diversity in proteins potentially involved in the symbiotic interactions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055390
PMCID: PMC3563639  PMID: 23390535
13.  Detection and characterization of Wolbachia infections in laboratory and natural populations of different species of tsetse flies (genus Glossina) 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12(Suppl 1):S3.
Background
Wolbachia is a genus of endosymbiotic α-Proteobacteria infecting a wide range of arthropods and filarial nematodes. Wolbachia is able to induce reproductive abnormalities such as cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), thelytokous parthenogenesis, feminization and male killing, thus affecting biology, ecology and evolution of its hosts. The bacterial group has prompted research regarding its potential for the control of agricultural and medical disease vectors, including Glossina spp., which transmits African trypanosomes, the causative agents of sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in animals.
Results
In the present study, we employed a Wolbachia specific 16S rRNA PCR assay to investigate the presence of Wolbachia in six different laboratory stocks as well as in natural populations of nine different Glossina species originating from 10 African countries. Wolbachia was prevalent in Glossina morsitans morsitans, G. morsitans centralis and G. austeni populations. It was also detected in G. brevipalpis, and, for the first time, in G. pallidipes and G. palpalis gambiensis. On the other hand, Wolbachia was not found in G. p. palpalis, G. fuscipes fuscipes and G. tachinoides. Wolbachia infections of different laboratory and natural populations of Glossina species were characterized using 16S rRNA, the wsp (Wolbachia Surface Protein) gene and MLST (Multi Locus Sequence Typing) gene markers. This analysis led to the detection of horizontal gene transfer events, in which Wobachia genes were inserted into the tsetse flies fly nuclear genome.
Conclusions
Wolbachia infections were detected in both laboratory and natural populations of several different Glossina species. The characterization of these Wolbachia strains promises to lead to a deeper insight in tsetse flies-Wolbachia interactions, which is essential for the development and use of Wolbachia-based biological control methods.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-S1-S3
PMCID: PMC3287514  PMID: 22376025
14.  Detection and Characterization of Wolbachia Infections in Natural Populations of Aphids: Is the Hidden Diversity Fully Unraveled? 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28695.
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 α-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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028695
PMCID: PMC3236762  PMID: 22174869
15.  Wolbachia Prophage DNA Adenine Methyltransferase Genes in Different Drosophila-Wolbachia Associations 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19708.
Wolbachia is an obligatory intracellular bacterium which often manipulates the reproduction of its insect and isopod hosts. In contrast, Wolbachia is an essential symbiont in filarial nematodes. Lately, Wolbachia has been implicated in genomic imprinting of host DNA through cytosine methylation. The importance of DNA methylation in cell fate and biology calls for in depth studing of putative methylation-related genes. We present a molecular and phylogenetic analysis of a putative DNA adenine methyltransferase encoded by a prophage in the Wolbachia genome. Two slightly different copies of the gene, met1 and met2, exhibit a different distribution over various Wolbachia strains. The met2 gene is present in the majority of strains, in wAu, however, it contains a frameshift caused by a 2 bp deletion. Phylogenetic analysis of the met2 DNA sequences suggests a long association of the gene with the Wolbachia host strains. In addition, our analysis provides evidence for previously unnoticed multiple infections, the detection of which is critical for the molecular elucidation of modification and/or rescue mechanism of cytoplasmic incompatibility.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019708
PMCID: PMC3089641  PMID: 21573076
16.  Acetic Acid Bacteria, Newly Emerging Symbionts of Insects▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(21):6963-6970.
Recent research in microbe-insect symbiosis has shown that acetic acid bacteria (AAB) establish symbiotic relationships with several insects of the orders Diptera, Hymenoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, all relying on sugar-based diets, such as nectars, fruit sugars, or phloem sap. To date, the fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster and Bactrocera oleae, mosquitoes of the genera Anopheles and Aedes, the honey bee Apis mellifera, the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus, and the mealybug Saccharicoccus sacchari have been found to be associated with the bacterial genera Acetobacter, Gluconacetobacter, Gluconobacter, Asaia, and Saccharibacter and the novel genus Commensalibacter. AAB establish symbiotic associations with the insect midgut, a niche characterized by the availability of diet-derived carbohydrates and oxygen and by an acidic pH, selective factors that support AAB growth. AAB have been shown to actively colonize different insect tissues and organs, such as the epithelia of male and female reproductive organs, the Malpighian tubules, and the salivary glands. This complex topology of the symbiosis indicates that AAB possess the keys for passing through body barriers, allowing them to migrate to different organs of the host. Recently, AAB involvement in the regulation of innate immune system homeostasis of Drosophila has been shown, indicating a functional role in host survival. All of these lines of evidence indicate that AAB can play different roles in insect biology, not being restricted to the feeding habit of the host. The close association of AAB and their insect hosts has been confirmed by the demonstration of multiple modes of transmission between individuals and to their progeny that include vertical and horizontal transmission routes, comprising a venereal one. Taken together, the data indicate that AAB represent novel secondary symbionts of insects.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01336-10
PMCID: PMC2976266  PMID: 20851977
17.  Extensive genomic diversity of closely related Wolbachia strains 
Microbiology  2009;155(Pt 7):2211-2222.
Using microarray-based comparative genome hybridization (mCGH), the genomic content of Wolbachia pipientis wMel from Drosophila melanogaster was compared to the closely related Wolbachia from D. innubila (wInn), D. santomea (wSan), and three strains from D. simulans (wAu, wRi, wSim). A large number of auxiliary genes are identified in these five strains, with most absent/divergent genes being unique to a given strain. Each strain caused an average of ∼60 genes to be removed from the core genome. As such, these organisms do not appear to have the streamlined genomes expected of obligate intracellular bacteria. Prophage, hypothetical and ankyrin repeat genes are over-represented in the absent/divergent genes, with 21–87 % of absent/divergent genes coming from prophage regions. The only wMel region absent/divergent in all five query strains is that containing WD_0509 to WD_0511, including a DNA mismatch repair protein MutL-2, a degenerate RNase, and a conserved hypothetical protein. A region flanked by the two portions of the WO-B prophage in wMel is found in four of the five Wolbachia strains as well as on a plasmid of a rickettsial endosymbiont of Ixodes scapularis, suggesting lateral gene transfer between these two obligate intracellular species. Overall, these insect-associated Wolbachia have highly mosaic genomes, with lateral gene transfer playing an important role in their diversity and evolution.
doi:10.1099/mic.0.027581-0
PMCID: PMC2888116  PMID: 19389774
18.  Parasitism and Mutualism in Wolbachia: What the Phylogenomic Trees Can and Cannot Say 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2008;26(1):231-241.
Ecological and evolutionary theories predict that parasitism and mutualism are not fixed endpoints of the symbiotic spectrum. Rather, parasitism and mutualism may be host or environment dependent, induced by the same genetic machinery, and shifted due to selection. These models presume the existence of genetic or environmental variation that can spur incipient changes in symbiotic lifestyle. However, for obligate intracellular bacteria whose genomes are highly reduced, studies specify that discrete symbiotic associations can be evolutionarily stable for hundreds of millions of years. Wolbachia is an inherited obligate, intracellular infection of invertebrates containing taxa that act broadly as both parasites in arthropods and mutualists in certain roundworms. Here, we analyze the ancestry of mutualism and parasitism in Wolbachia and the evolutionary trajectory of this variation in symbiotic lifestyle with a comprehensive, phylogenomic analysis. Contrary to previous claims, we show unequivocally that the transition in lifestyle cannot be reconstructed with current methods due to long-branch attraction (LBA) artifacts of the distant Anaplasma and Ehrlichia outgroups. Despite the use of 1) site-heterogenous phylogenomic methods that can overcome systematic error, 2) a taxonomically rich set of taxa, and 3) statistical assessments of the genes, tree topologies, and models of evolution, we conclude that the LBA artifact is serious enough to afflict past and recent claims including the root lies in the middle of the Wolbachia mutualists and parasites. We show that different inference methods yield different results and high bootstrap support did not equal phylogenetic accuracy. Recombination was rare among this taxonomically diverse data set, indicating that elevated levels of recombination in Wolbachia are restricted to specific coinfecting groups. In conclusion, we attribute the inability to root the tree to rate heterogeneity between the ingroup and outgroup. Site-heterogenous models of evolution did improve the placement of aberrant taxa in the ingroup phylogeny. Finally, in the unrooted topology, the distribution of parasitism and mutualism across the tree suggests that at least two interphylum transfers shaped the origins of nematode mutualism and arthropod parasitism. We suggest that the ancestry of mutualism and parasitism is not resolvable without more suitable outgroups or complete genome sequences from all Wolbachia supergroups.
doi:10.1093/molbev/msn243
PMCID: PMC2721558  PMID: 18974066
endosymbiosis; phylogenomics; parasitism; mutualism; Wolbachia; PhyloBayes
19.  Acetobacter tropicalis Is a Major Symbiont of the Olive Fruit Fly (Bactrocera oleae)▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(10):3281-3288.
Following cultivation-dependent and -independent techniques, we investigated the microbiota associated with Bactrocera oleae, one of the major agricultural pests in olive-producing countries. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene libraries and ultrastructural analyses revealed the presence of several bacterial taxa associated with this insect, among which Acetobacter tropicalis was predominant. The recent increased detection of acetic acid bacteria as symbionts of other insect model organisms, such as Anopheles stephensi (G. Favia et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:9047-9051, 2007) or Drosophila melanogaster (C. R. Cox and M. S. Gilmore, Infect. Immun. 75:1565-1576, 2007), prompted us to investigate the association established between A. tropicalis and B. oleae. Using an A. tropicalis-specific PCR assay, the symbiont was detected in all insects tested originating from laboratory stocks or field-collected from different locations in Greece. This acetic acid bacterium was successfully established in cell-free medium, and typing analyses, carried out on a collection of isolates, revealed that different A. tropicalis strains are present in fly populations. The capability to colonize and lodge in the digestive system of both larvae and adults and in Malpighian tubules of adults was demonstrated by using a strain labeled with a green fluorescent protein.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02933-08
PMCID: PMC2681620  PMID: 19304818
20.  New criteria for selecting the origin of DNA replication in Wolbachia and closely related bacteria 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:182.
Background
The annotated genomes of two closely related strains of the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia pipientis have been reported without the identifications of the putative origin of replication (ori). Identifying the ori of these bacteria and related alpha-Proteobacteria as well as their patterns of sequence evolution will aid studies of cell replication and cell density, as well as the potential genetic manipulation of these widespread intracellular bacteria.
Results
Using features that have been previously experimentally verified in the alpha-Proteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus, the origin of DNA replication (ori) regions were identified in silico for Wolbachia strains and eleven other related bacteria belonging to Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and Rickettsia genera. These features include DnaA-, CtrA- and IHF-binding sites as well as the flanking genes in C. crescentus. The Wolbachia ori boundary genes were found to be hemE and COG1253 protein (CBS domain protein). Comparisons of the putative ori region among related Wolbachia strains showed higher conservation of bases within binding sites.
Conclusion
The sequences of the ori regions described here are only similar among closely related bacteria while fundamental characteristics like presence of DnaA and IHF binding sites as well as the boundary genes are more widely conserved. The relative paucity of CtrA binding sites in the ori regions, as well as the absence of key enzymes associated with DNA replication in the respective genomes, suggest that several of these obligate intracellular bacteria may have altered replication mechanisms. Based on these analyses, criteria are set forth for identifying the ori region in genome sequencing projects.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-182
PMCID: PMC1914354  PMID: 17584494
21.  Heads or Tails: Host-Parasite Interactions in the Drosophila-Wolbachia System 
Wolbachia strains are endosymbiotic bacteria typically found in the reproductive tracts of arthropods. These bacteria manipulate host reproduction to ensure maternal transmission. They are usually transmitted vertically, so it has been predicted that they have evolved a mechanism to target the host's germ cells during development. Through cytological analysis we found that Wolbachia strains display various affinities for the germ line of Drosophila. Different Wolbachia strains show posterior, anterior, or cortical localization in Drosophila embryos, and this localization is congruent with the classification of the organisms based on the wsp (Wolbachia surface protein) gene sequence. This embryonic distribution pattern is established during early oogenesis and does not change until late stages of embryogenesis. The posterior and anterior localization of Wolbachia resembles that of oskar and bicoid mRNAs, respectively, which define the anterior-posterior axis in the Drosophila oocyte. By comparing the properties of a single Wolbachia strain in different host backgrounds and the properties of different Wolbachia strains in the same host background, we concluded that bacterial factors determine distribution, while bacterial density seems to be limited by the host. Possible implications concerning cytoplasmic incompatibility and evolution of strains are discussed.
doi:10.1128/AEM.70.9.5366-5372.2004
PMCID: PMC520876  PMID: 15345422
22.  Characterization of Wolbachia Host Cell Range via the In Vitro Establishment of Infections† 
Maternally transmitted bacteria of the genus Wolbachia are obligate, intracellular symbionts that are frequently found in insects and cause a diverse array of reproductive manipulations, including cytoplasmic incompatibility, male killing, parthenogenesis, and feminization. Despite the existence of a broad range of scientific interest, many aspects of Wolbachia research have been limited to laboratories with insect-rearing facilities. The inability to culture these bacteria outside of the invertebrate host has also led to the existing bias of Wolbachia research toward infections that occur in host insects that are easily reared. Here, we demonstrate that Wolbachia infections can be simply established, stably maintained, and cryogenically stored in vitro using standard tissue culture techniques. We have examined Wolbachia host range by introducing different Wolbachia types into a single tissue culture. The results show that an Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) cell line can support five different Wolbachia infection types derived from Drosophila simulans (Diptera: Drosophilidae), Culex pipiens (Culicidae), and Cadra cautella (Lepidoptera: Phycitidae). These bacterial types include infection types that have been assigned to two of the major Wolbachia clades. As an additional examination of Wolbachia host cell range, we demonstrated that a Wolbachia strain from D. simulans could be established in host insect cell lines derived from A. albopictus, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), and Drosophila melanogaster. These results will facilitate the development of a Wolbachia stock center, permitting novel approaches for the study of Wolbachia infections and encouraging Wolbachia research in additional laboratories.
doi:10.1128/AEM.68.2.656-660.2002
PMCID: PMC126719  PMID: 11823204
23.  Gene Organization of the dnaA Region of Wolbachia 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(15):4708-4710.
The dnaA region of Wolbachia, an intracellular bacterial parasite of insects, is unique. A glnA cognate was found upstream of the dnaA gene, while neither of the two open reading frames detected downstream of dnaA has any homologue in the database. This unusual gene arrangement may reflect requirements associated with the unique ecological niche this agent occupies.
PMCID: PMC103611  PMID: 10419978

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