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Trends Microbiol. 2006 Sep;14(9):406-12. Epub 2006 Jul 27.

Culture and manipulation of insect facultative symbionts.

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Department of Biology, University of Utah, 257 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


Insects from many different taxonomic groups harbor maternally transmitted bacterial symbionts. Some of these associations are ancient in origin and obligate in nature whereas others originated more recently and are facultative. Previous research focused on the biology of ancient obligate symbionts with essential nutritional roles in their insect hosts. However, recent important advances in understanding the biology of facultative associations have been driven by the development of techniques for the culture, genetic modification and manipulation of facultative symbionts. In this review, we examine these available experimental techniques and illustrate how they have provided fascinating new insight into the nature of associations involving facultative symbionts. We also propose a rationale for future research based on the integration of genomics and experimentation.

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