Format

Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2013 Dec 4;8(12):e80822. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080822. eCollection 2013.

Bacterial endosymbiosis in a chordate host: long-term co-evolution and conservation of secondary metabolism.

Author information

1
Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America.

Abstract

Intracellular symbiosis is known to be widespread in insects, but there are few described examples in other types of host. These symbionts carry out useful activities such as synthesizing nutrients and conferring resistance against adverse events such as parasitism. Such symbionts persist through host speciation events, being passed down through vertical transmission. Due to various evolutionary forces, symbionts go through a process of genome reduction, eventually resulting in tiny genomes where only those genes essential to immediate survival and those beneficial to the host remain. In the marine environment, invertebrates such as tunicates are known to harbor complex microbiomes implicated in the production of natural products that are toxic and probably serve a defensive function. Here, we show that the intracellular symbiont Candidatus Endolissoclinum faulkneri is a long-standing symbiont of the tunicate Lissoclinum patella, that has persisted through cryptic speciation of the host. In contrast to the known examples of insect symbionts, which tend to be either relatively recent or ancient relationships, the genome of Ca. E. faulkneri has a very low coding density but very few recognizable pseudogenes. The almost complete degradation of intergenic regions and stable gene inventory of extant strains of Ca. E. faulkneri show that further degradation and deletion is happening very slowly. This is a novel stage of genome reduction and provides insight into how tiny genomes are formed. The ptz pathway, which produces the defensive patellazoles, is shown to date to before the divergence of Ca. E. faulkneri strains, reinforcing its importance in this symbiotic relationship. Lastly, as in insects we show that stable symbionts can be lost, as we describe an L. patella animal where Ca. E. faulkneri is displaced by a likely intracellular pathogen. Our results suggest that intracellular symbionts may be an important source of ecologically significant natural products in animals.

PMID:
24324632
PMCID:
PMC3851785
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0080822
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center