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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016 Dec;14(12):731-743. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2016.151. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

How multi-partner endosymbioses function.

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Department of Entomology and Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Various animals are associated with specific endosymbiotic microorganisms that provide the host with essential nutrients or confer protection against natural enemies. Genomic analyses of the many endosymbioses that are found in plant sap-feeding hemipteran insects have revealed independent acquisitions - and occasional replacements - of endosymbionts, such that many of these endosymbioses involve two or more microbial partners. In this Review, I discuss how partitioning of the genetic capacity for metabolic function between different endosymbionts has sustained nutritional function in multi-partner endosymbioses, and how the phenotypic traits of these endosymbionts can be shaped by co-evolutionary interactions with both co-occurring microbial taxa and the host, which often operate over long evolutionary timescales.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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