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Evidence of diversity and recombination in Arsenophonus symbionts of the Bemisia tabaci species complex

Mouton L., Thierry M., Henri H., Baudin R., Gnankine O., Reynaud B., Zchori Fein E., Becker N., Fleury F., Delatte H.. 2012. BMC Microbiology, 12 (1) : 15 p..

Background Maternally inherited bacterial symbionts infecting arthropods have major implications on host ecology and evolution. Among them, the genus Arsenophonus is particularly characterized by a large host spectrum and a wide range of symbiotic relationships (from mutualism to parasitism), making it a good model to study the evolution of host-symbiont associations. However, few data are available on the diversity and distribution of Arsenophonus within host lineages. Here, we propose a survey on Arsenophonus diversity in whitefly species (Hemiptera), in particular the Bemisia tabaci species complex. This polyphagous insect pest is composed of genetic groups that differ in many ecological aspects. They harbor specific bacterial communities, among them several lineages of Arsenophonus, enabling a study of the evolutionary history of these bacteria at a fine host taxonomic level, in association to host geographical range and ecology. Results Among 152 individuals, our analysis identified 19 allelic profiles and 6 phylogenetic groups, demonstrating this bacterium's high diversity. These groups, based on Arsenophonus phylogeny, correlated with B. tabaci genetic groups with two exceptions reflecting horizontal transfers. None of three genes analyzed provided evidence of intragenic recombination, but intergenic recombination events were detected. A mutation inducing a STOP codon on one gene in a strain infecting one B. tabaci genetic group was also found. Phylogenetic analyses of the three concatenated loci revealed the existence of two clades of Arsenophonus. One, composed of strains found in other Hemiptera, could be the ancestral clade in whiteflies. The other, which regroups strains found in Hymenoptera and Diptera, may have been acquired more recently by whiteflies through lateral transfers. Conclusions This analysis of the genus Arsenophonus revealed a diversity within the B. tabaci species complex which resembles that reported on the larger scale of insect taxonomy. We also provide evidence for recombination events within the Arsenophonus genome and horizontal transmission of strains among insect taxa. This work provides further insight into the evolution of the Arsenophonus genome, the infection dynamics of this bacterium and its influence on its insect host's ecology. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : variation génétique; relation hôte pathogène; trialeurodes vaporariorum; bemisia tabaci; agent pathogène; enterobacteriaceae; europe; afrique; arsenophonus

Thématique : Ravageurs des plantes

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