To B or not to B: Comparative genomics suggests Arsenophonusas a source of B vitamins in whiteflies

DIego Santos-Garcia*, Ksenia Juravel, Shiri Freilich, Einat Zchori-Fein, Amparo Latorre, Andrés Moya, Shai Morin, Francisco J. Silva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Insect lineages feeding on nutritionally restricted diets such as phloem sap, xylem sap, or blood, were able to diversify by acquiring bacterial species that complement lacking nutrients. These bacteria, considered obligate/primary endosymbionts, share a long evolutionary history with their hosts. In some cases, however, these endosymbionts are not able to fulfill all of their host's nutritional requirements, driving the acquisition of additional symbiotic species. Phloem-feeding members of the insect family Aleyrodidae (whiteflies) established an obligate relationship with Candidatus Portiera aleyrodidarum, which provides its hots with essential amino acids and carotenoids. In addition, many whitefly species harbor additional endosymbionts which may potentially further supplement their host's diet. To test this hypothesis, genomes of several endosymbionts of the whiteflies Aleurodicus dispersus, Aleurodicus floccissimus and Trialeurodes vaporariorum were analyzed. In addition to Portiera, all three species were found to harbor one Arsenophonus and one Wolbachia endosymbiont. A comparative analysis of Arsenophonus genomes revealed that although all three are capable of synthesizing B vitamins and cofactors, such as pyridoxal, riboflavin, or folate, their genomes and phylogenetic relationship vary greatly. Arsenophonus of A. floccissimus and T. vaporariorum belong to the same clade, and display characteristics of facultative endosymbionts, such as large genomes (3 Mb) with thousands of genes and pseudogenes, intermediate GC content, and mobile genetic elements. In contrast, Arsenophonus of A. dispersus belongs to a different lineage and displays the characteristics of a primary endosymbiont - a reduced genome (670 kb) with ~400 genes, 32% GC content, and no mobile genetic elements. However, the presence of 274 pseudogenes suggests that this symbiotic association is more recent than other reported primary endosymbionts of hemipterans. The gene repertoire of Arsenophonus of A. dispersus is completely integrated in the symbiotic consortia, and the biosynthesis of most vitamins occurs in shared pathways with its host. In addition, Wolbachia endosymbionts have also retained the ability to produce riboflavin, flavin adenine dinucleotide, and folate, and may make a nutritional contribution. Taken together, our results show that Arsenophonus hold a pivotal place in whitefly nutrition by their ability to produce B vitamins.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2254
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume9
Issue numberSEP
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Sep 2018

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Keywords

  • Arsenophonus
  • Genome reduction
  • Metabolic complementation
  • Riboflavin
  • Symbiosis
  • Vitamins
  • Whitefly
  • Wolbachia

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