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Mol Biol Evol. 2003 Jun;20(6):907-13. Epub 2003 Apr 25.

Evidence for cocladogenesis between diverse dictyopteran lineages and their intracellular endosymbionts.

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  • 1National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Tsukuba, Japan.


Bacteria of the genus Blattabacterium are intracellular symbionts that reside in specialized cells of cockroaches and the termite Mastotermes darwiniensis. They appear to be obligate mutualists, and are transmitted vertically in the eggs. Such characteristics are expected to lead to equivalent phylogenies for host and symbiont, and we tested this hypothesis using recently accumulated data on relationships among termites and cockroaches and their Blattabacterium spp. Host and symbiont topologies were found to be highly similar, and various tests indicated that they were not statistically different. A close relationship between endosymbionts from termites and members of the wood-feeding cockroach genus Cryptocercus was found, supporting the hypothesis that the former evolved from subsocial, wood-dwelling cockroaches. The majority of the Blattabacterium spp. sequences appear to have undergone similar rates of evolution since their divergence from a common ancestor, and an estimate of this rate was determined based on early Cretaceous host fossils. The results support the idea that the stem group of modern cockroaches radiated sometime between the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous-not the Carboniferous, as has been suggested on the basis of roach-like fossils from this epoch.

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