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Microbiology. 2002 Aug;148(Pt 8):2551-6.

Small genome of Candidatus Blochmannia, the bacterial endosymbiont of Camponotus, implies irreversible specialization to an intracellular lifestyle.

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Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution, Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.


Blochmannia (Candidatus Blochmannia gen. nov.) is the primary bacterial endosymbiont of the ant genus CAMPONOTUS: Like other obligate endosymbionts of insects, Blochmannia occurs exclusively within eukaryotic cells and has experienced long-term vertical transmission through host lineages. In this study, PFGE was used to estimate the genome size of Blochmannia as approximately 800 kb, which is significantly smaller than its free-living relatives in the enterobacteria. This small genome implies that Blochmannia has deleted most of the genetic machinery of related free-living bacteria. Due to restricted gene exchange in obligate endosymbionts, the substantial gene loss in Blochmannia and other insect mutualists may reflect irreversible specialization to a host cellular environment.

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