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Curr Microbiol. 2013 Jan;66(1):30-9. doi: 10.1007/s00284-012-0220-6. Epub 2012 Sep 29.

Characterization and phylogenetic relationships of Photorhabdus luminescens subsp. sonorensis (γ-Proteobacteria: Enterobacteriaceae), the bacterial symbiont of the entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis sonorensis (Nematoda: Heterorhabditidae).

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  • 1Department of Entomology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, 85721-0036, USA.


Photorhabdus are motile Gram-negative bacteria that have a mutualistic association with Heterorhabditis nematodes (Heterorhabditidae). These bacteria possess peculiar biochemical characteristics such as inability to reduce nitrates, and the capacity to ferment only a limited number of carbohydrates. Heterorhabditis nematodes vector the bacteria from one insect host to another and also provide shelter to the bacteria from soil stressors and antagonists. Once inside the insect host, the bacterial symbionts are released and produce toxins and secondary metabolites and broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill the host by septicemia within 48 h. At present, three Photorhabdus spp. have been identified: P. luminescens, P. temperata, and P. asymbiotica, and many subspecies have also been described. Characterization of new species and subspecies has been based on sequence data, mostly of the 16S rDNA, and also of a selection of protein coding genes. In addition to this, phenotypic traits including temperature growth, colony morphology, color, light production, carbohydrate response, and assimilation, among others, have been considered. In this study, we characterize the bacterial symbiont of Heterorbabditis sonorensis, a recently discovered entomopathogenic nematode species form the Sonoran desert in Arizona, USA. A selection of classic biochemical and molecular methods including sequence data of six genes: 16s rDNA, and four protein coding genes: gyrB, recA, gltX, and dnaN were considered. Evolutionary relationships of this new Photorhabdus subsp. were inferred considering maximum parsimony and Bayesian analyses.

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