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J Invertebr Pathol. 2013 Mar;112 Suppl:S116-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

Tissue distribution and transmission routes for the tsetse fly endosymbionts.

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INSA-Lyon, INRA, UMR203 BF2I, Biologie Fonctionnelle Insectes et Interactions, F-69621 Villeurbanne, France.


The tsetse fly Glossina is the vector of the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei spp., which causes Human and Animal African Trypanosomiasis in sub-Saharan African countries. To supplement their unbalanced vertebrate bloodmeal diet, flies permanently harbor the obligate bacterium Wigglesworthia glossinidia, which resides in bacteriocytes in the midgut bacteriome organ as well as in milk gland organ. Tsetse flies also harbor the secondary facultative endosymbionts (S-symbiont) Sodalis glossinidius that infects various tissues and Wolbachia that infects germ cells. Tsetse flies display viviparous reproductive biology where a single embryo hatches and completes its entire larval development in utero and receives nourishments in the form of milk secreted by mother's accessory glands (milk glands). To analyze the precise tissue distribution of the three endosymbiotic bacteria and to infer the way by which each symbiotic partner is transmitted from parent to progeny, we conducted a Fluorescence In situ Hybridization (FISH) study to survey bacterial spatial distribution across the fly tissues. We show that bacteriocytes are mono-infected with Wigglesworthia, while both Wigglesworthia and Sodalis are present in the milk gland lumen. Sodalis was further seen in the uterus, spermathecae, fat body, milk and intracellular in the milk gland cells. Contrary to Wigglesworthia and Sodalis, Wolbachia were the only bacteria infecting oocytes, trophocytes, and embryos at early embryonic stages. Furthermore, Wolbachia were not seen in the milk gland and in the fat body. This work further highlights the diversity of symbiont interactions in multipartner associations and supports two maternal routes of symbiont inheritance in the tsetse fly: Wolbachia through oocytes, and, Wigglesworthia and Sodalis by means of milk gland bacterial infection at early post-embryonic stages.

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