Send to

Choose Destination
Cell. 2014 Sep 11;158(6):1270-1280. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.07.047. Epub 2014 Aug 28.

Sympatric speciation in a bacterial endosymbiont results in two genomes with the functionality of one.

Author information

Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, CIFAR Program in Integrated Microbial Biodiversity, Toronto, ON M5G 1Z8, Canada. Electronic address:


Mutualisms that become evolutionarily stable give rise to organismal interdependencies. Some insects have developed intracellular associations with communities of bacteria, where the interdependencies are manifest in patterns of complementary gene loss and retention among members of the symbiosis. Here, using comparative genomics and microscopy, we show that a three-member symbiotic community has become a four-way assemblage through a novel bacterial lineage-splitting event. In some but not all cicada species of the genus Tettigades, the endosymbiont Candidatus Hodgkinia cicadicola has split into two new cytologically distinct but metabolically interdependent species. Although these new bacterial genomes are partitioned into discrete cell types, the intergenome patterns of gene loss and retention are almost perfectly complementary. These results defy easy classification: they show genomic patterns consistent with those observed after both speciation and whole-genome duplication. We suggest that our results highlight the potential power of nonadaptive forces in shaping organismal complexity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center