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1.  Transcript Abundance of Photorhabdus Insect-Related (Pir) Toxin in Manduca sexta and Galleria mellonella Infections 
Toxins  2016;8(10):287.
In this study, we assessed pirAB toxin transcription in Photorhabdus luminescens laumondii (strain TT01) (Enterobacteriaceae) by comparing mRNA abundance under in vivo and in vitro conditions. In vivo assays considered both natural and forced infections with two lepidopteran hosts: Galleria mellonella and Manduca sexta. Three portals of entry were utilized for the forced infection assays: (a) integument; (b) the digestive route (via mouth and anus); and (c) the tracheal route (via spiracles). We also assessed plu4093-2 transcription during the course of a natural infection; this is when the bacteria are delivered by Heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematodes. Transcript abundance in G. mellonella was higher than in M. sexta at two of the observed time points: 15 and 18 h. Expression of pirAB plu4093-2 reached above endogenous control levels at 22 h in G. mellonella but not in M. sexta. Overall, pirAB plu4093-2 transcripts were not as highly expressed in M. sexta as in G. mellonella, from 15 to 22 h. This is the first study to directly compare pirAB plu4093-2 toxin transcript production considering different portals of entry.
doi:10.3390/toxins8100287
PMCID: PMC5086647  PMID: 27690103
Photorhabdus luminescenslaumondii; pir toxin; pirA and pirB transcript detection; portal of entry; tissue specificity
2.  Comparative genomics of Steinernema reveals deeply conserved gene regulatory networks 
Genome Biology  2015;16:200.
Background
Parasitism is a major ecological niche for a variety of nematodes. Multiple nematode lineages have specialized as pathogens, including deadly parasites of insects that are used in biological control. We have sequenced and analyzed the draft genomes and transcriptomes of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae and four congeners (S. scapterisci, S. monticolum, S. feltiae, and S. glaseri).
Results
We used these genomes to establish phylogenetic relationships, explore gene conservation across species, and identify genes uniquely expanded in insect parasites. Protein domain analysis in Steinernema revealed a striking expansion of numerous putative parasitism genes, including certain protease and protease inhibitor families, as well as fatty acid- and retinol-binding proteins. Stage-specific gene expression of some of these expanded families further supports the notion that they are involved in insect parasitism by Steinernema. We show that sets of novel conserved non-coding regulatory motifs are associated with orthologous genes in Steinernema and Caenorhabditis.
Conclusions
We have identified a set of expanded gene families that are likely to be involved in parasitism. We have also identified a set of non-coding motifs associated with groups of orthologous genes in Steinernema and Caenorhabditis involved in neurogenesis and embryonic development that are likely part of conserved protein–DNA relationships shared between these two genera.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0746-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0746-6
PMCID: PMC4578762  PMID: 26392177
3.  Xenorhabdus bovienii Strain Diversity Impacts Coevolution and Symbiotic Maintenance with Steinernema spp. Nematode Hosts 
mBio  2015;6(3):e00076-15.
ABSTRACT
Microbial symbionts provide benefits that contribute to the ecology and fitness of host plants and animals. Therefore, the evolutionary success of plants and animals fundamentally depends on long-term maintenance of beneficial associations. Most work investigating coevolution and symbiotic maintenance has focused on species-level associations, and studies are lacking that assess the impact of bacterial strain diversity on symbiotic associations within a coevolutionary framework. Here, we demonstrate that fitness in mutualism varies depending on bacterial strain identity, and this is consistent with variation shaping phylogenetic patterns and maintenance through fitness benefits. Through genome sequencing of nine bacterial symbiont strains and cophylogenetic analysis, we demonstrate diversity among Xenorhabdus bovienii bacteria. Further, we identified cocladogenesis between Steinernema feltiae nematode hosts and their corresponding X. bovienii symbiont strains, indicating potential specificity within the association. To test the specificity, we performed laboratory crosses of nematode hosts with native and nonnative symbiont strains, which revealed that combinations with the native bacterial symbiont and closely related strains performed significantly better than those with more divergent symbionts. Through genomic analyses we also defined potential factors contributing to specificity between nematode hosts and bacterial symbionts. These results suggest that strain-level diversity (e.g., subspecies-level differences) in microbial symbionts can drive variation in the success of host-microbe associations, and this suggests that these differences in symbiotic success could contribute to maintenance of the symbiosis over an evolutionary time scale.
IMPORTANCE
Beneficial symbioses between microbes and plant or animal hosts are ubiquitous, and in these associations, microbial symbionts provide key benefits to their hosts. As such, host success is fundamentally dependent on long-term maintenance of beneficial associations. Prolonged association between partners in evolutionary time is expected to result in interactions in which only specific partners can fully support symbiosis. The contribution of bacterial strain diversity on specificity and coevolution in a beneficial symbiosis remains unclear. In this study, we demonstrate that strain-level differences in fitness benefits occur in beneficial host-microbe interactions, and this variation likely shapes phylogenetic patterns and symbiotic maintenance. This highlights that symbiont contributions to host biology can vary significantly based on very-fine-scale differences among members of a microbial species. Further, this work emphasizes the need for greater phylogenetic resolution when considering the causes and consequences of host-microbe interactions.
doi:10.1128/mBio.00076-15
PMCID: PMC4462624  PMID: 26045536
4.  Common Virulence Factors and Tissue Targets of Entomopathogenic Bacteria for Biological Control of Lepidopteran Pests 
Insects  2014;5(1):139-166.
This review focuses on common insecticidal virulence factors from entomopathogenic bacteria with special emphasis on two insect pathogenic bacteria Photorhabdus (Proteobacteria: Enterobacteriaceae) and Bacillus (Firmicutes: Bacillaceae). Insect pathogenic bacteria of diverse taxonomic groups and phylogenetic origin have been shown to have striking similarities in the virulence factors they produce. It has been suggested that the detection of phage elements surrounding toxin genes, horizontal and lateral gene transfer events, and plasmid shuffling occurrences may be some of the reasons that virulence factor genes have so many analogs throughout the bacterial kingdom. Comparison of virulence factors of Photorhabdus, and Bacillus, two bacteria with dissimilar life styles opens the possibility of re-examining newly discovered toxins for novel tissue targets. For example, nematodes residing in the hemolymph may release bacteria with virulence factors targeting neurons or neuromuscular junctions. The first section of this review focuses on toxins and their context in agriculture. The second describes the mode of action of toxins from common entomopathogens and the third draws comparisons between Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The fourth section reviews the implications of the nervous system in biocontrol.
doi:10.3390/insects5010139
PMCID: PMC3952272  PMID: 24634779
Photorhabdus; Bacillus thuringiensis; virulence factors; toxins; neurobiology; Mcf; Tc; Cry
5.  Common Virulence Factors and Tissue Targets of Entomopathogenic Bacteria for Biological Control of Lepidopteran Pests 
Insects  2014;5(1):139-166.
This review focuses on common insecticidal virulence factors from entomopathogenic bacteria with special emphasis on two insect pathogenic bacteria Photorhabdus (Proteobacteria: Enterobacteriaceae) and Bacillus (Firmicutes: Bacillaceae). Insect pathogenic bacteria of diverse taxonomic groups and phylogenetic origin have been shown to have striking similarities in the virulence factors they produce. It has been suggested that the detection of phage elements surrounding toxin genes, horizontal and lateral gene transfer events, and plasmid shuffling occurrences may be some of the reasons that virulence factor genes have so many analogs throughout the bacterial kingdom. Comparison of virulence factors of Photorhabdus, and Bacillus, two bacteria with dissimilar life styles opens the possibility of re-examining newly discovered toxins for novel tissue targets. For example, nematodes residing in the hemolymph may release bacteria with virulence factors targeting neurons or neuromuscular junctions. The first section of this review focuses on toxins and their context in agriculture. The second describes the mode of action of toxins from common entomopathogens and the third draws comparisons between Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The fourth section reviews the implications of the nervous system in biocontrol.
doi:10.3390/insects5010139
PMCID: PMC3952272  PMID: 24634779
Photorhabdus; Bacillus thuringiensis; virulence factors; toxins; neurobiology; Mcf; Tc; Cry
6.  Phenotypic variation and host interactions of Xenorhabdus bovienii SS-2004, the entomopathogenic symbiont of Steinernema jollieti nematodes 
Environmental Microbiology  2011;14(4):924-939.
Summary
Xenorhabdus bovienii (SS-2004) bacteria reside in the intestine of the infective-juvenile (IJ) stage of the entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema jollieti. The recent sequencing of the X. bovienii genome facilitates its use as a model to understand host-symbiont interactions. To provide a biological foundation for such studies, we characterized X. bovienii in vitro and host-interaction phenotypes. Within the nematode host X. bovienii was contained within a membrane bound envelope that also enclosed the nematode-derived intravesicular structure. S. jollieti nematodes cultivated on mixed lawns of X. bovienii expressing green or DsRed fluorescent proteins were predominantly colonized by one or the other strain, suggesting the colonizing population is founded by a few cells. X. bovienii exhibits phenotypic variation between orange-pigmented primary form and cream-pigmented secondary form. Each form can colonize IJ nematodes when cultured in vitro on agar. However, IJs did not develop or emerge from Galleria mellonella insects infected with secondary form. Unlike primary-form infected insects that were soft and flexible, secondary-form infected insects retained a rigid exoskeleton structure. X. bovienii primary and secondary form isolates are virulent toward Manduca sexta and several other insects. However, primary form stocks present attenuated virulence, suggesting that X. bovienii, like X. nematophila may undergo virulence modulation.
doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02663.x
PMCID: PMC3307839  PMID: 22151385
bacteria; microbe-higher organism interactions; symbionts; insect pathogen; nematode mutualist; virulence modulation; makes caterpillars floppy
7.  Entomopathogenic Nematodes as a Model System for Advancing the Frontiers of Ecology 
Journal of Nematology  2012;44(2):162-176.
Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) in the families Heterorhabditidae and Steinernematidae have a mutualistic–symbiotic association with enteric γ-Proteobacteria (Steinernema–Xenorhabdus and Heterorhabditis–Photorhabdus), which confer high virulence against insects. EPNs have been studied intensively because of their role as a natural mortality factor for soil-dwelling arthropods and their potential as biological control agents for belowground insect pests. For many decades, research on EPNs focused on the taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography, genetics, physiology, biochemistry and ecology, as well as commercial production and application technologies. More recently, EPNs and their bacterial symbionts are being viewed as a model system for advancing research in other disciplines such as soil ecology, symbiosis and evolutionary biology. Integration of existing information, particularly the accumulating information on their biology, into increasingly detailed population models is critical to improving our ability to exploit and manage EPNs as a biological control agent and to understand ecological processes in a changing world. Here, we summarize some recent advances in phylogeny, systematics, biogeography, community ecology and population dynamics models of EPNs, and describe how this research is advancing frontiers in ecology.
PMCID: PMC3578465  PMID: 23482825
biodiversity; entomopathogenic nematodes; Heterorhabditis; multivariate analysis; Photorhabdus; soil ecology; soil food web; Steinernema; Xenorhabdus
8.  An Entomopathogenic Nematode by Any Other Name 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(3):e1002527.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002527
PMCID: PMC3291613  PMID: 22396642
10.  New Insights into the Colonization and Release Processes of Xenorhabdus nematophila and the Morphology and Ultrastructure of the Bacterial Receptacle of Its Nematode Host, Steinernema carpocapsae▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(16):5338-5346.
We present results from epifluorescence, differential interference contrast, and transmission electron microscopy showing that Xenorhabdus nematophila colonizes a receptacle in the anterior intestine of the infective juvenile (IJ) stage of Steinernema carpocapsae. This region is connected to the esophagus at the esophagointestinal junction. The process by which X. nematophila leaves this bacterial receptacle had not been analyzed previously. In this study we monitored the movement of green fluorescent protein-labeled bacteria during the release process. Our observations revealed that Xenorhabdus colonizes the distal region of the receptacle and that exposure to insect hemolymph stimulated forward movement of the bacteria to the esophagointestinal junction. Continued exposure to hemolymph caused a narrow passage in the distal receptacle to widen, allowing movement of Xenorhabdus down the intestine and out the anus. Efficient release of both the wild type and a nonmotile strain was evident in most of the IJs incubated in hemolymph, whereas only a few IJs incubated in nutrient-rich broth released bacterial cells. Incubation of IJs in hemolymph treated with agents that induce nematode paralysis dramatically inhibited the release process. These results suggest that bacterial motility is not required for movement out of the distal region of the receptacle and that hemolymph-induced esophageal pumping provides a force for the release of X. nematophila out of the receptacle and into the intestinal lumen.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02947-06
PMCID: PMC1951000  PMID: 17526783
11.  Revised List of Type Specimens on Deposit in the University of California Davis Nematode Collection 
Journal of Nematology  1998;30(3):368-390.
The list of deposited type specimens is updated for the University of California Davis Nematode Collection, as recommended by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. The type collection includes 1,001 species and more than 11,000 individual specimens mounted on microscope slides. This list can be used as a reference to locate specimens but is not meant to clarify ambiguities that may exist concerning the type status of particular specimens.
PMCID: PMC2620300  PMID: 19274230
collection; list; nematode; species; type specimens

Results 1-11 (11)