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J Invertebr Pathol. 2003 Mar;82(3):152-61.

Extraordinary proliferation of microorganisms in aposymbiotic pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum.

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  • 1Molecular Microbial Ecology Division, Bioscience Technology Center, RIKEN, (The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research), Hirosawa 2-1, Wako-shi, 351-0198, Saitama, Japan. bachi@postman.riken.go.jp


Aposymbiotic pea aphids, which were deprived of their intracellular symbiotic bacterium, Buchnera, exhibit growth retardation and no fecundity. High performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) analysis revealed that these aposymbiotic aphids, when reared on broad bean plants, accumulated a large amount of histamine. To assess the possibility of extraordinary proliferation of microorganisms other than Buchnera, we enumerated eubacteria and fungi in aphids using the real-time quantitative PCR method that targets genes encoding small-subunit rRNAs. The result showed that these microorganisms were extremely abundant in the aposymbiotic aphids reared on plants. Microbial communities in aposymbiotic aphids were further profiled by phylogenetic analysis of small-subunit rDNAs. Of 172 nonchimeric sequences of fungal 18S rDNAs, 138 (80.2%) belonged to the phylum Ascomycota. Among them, 21 clustered within a monophyletic group consisting of insect-pathogenic fungi and yeast-like symbionts of homopteran insects. Thirty-one (18.0%), two (1.2%), and one (0.6%) clones were clustered within the Basidiomycota, Zygomycota, and Oomycota, respectively. Of 167 nonchimeric sequences of eubacterial 16S rDNAs, 84 (50.3%) belonged to the gamma-subdivision of Proteobacteria to which most primary endosymbionts of insects and prolific histamine producers belong. Forty (24.0%), 25 (15.0%), 10 (6.0%), and five (3.0%) clones were clustered within alpha-Proteobacteria, Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides (CFB) group, Actinobacteria, and beta-Proteobacteria, respectively. Three had no phylogenetic association with known taxonomic divisions. None of the sequences studied in this study coincided exactly with those deposited in GenBank.

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