Mobile elements create strain‐level variation in the services conferred by an aphid symbiont

Type Article
Date 2023-12
Language English
Author(s) Patel Vilas1, Lynn‐bell Nicole1, Chevignon GermainORCID2, Kucuk Roy A.1, Higashi Clesson H. V.3, Carpenter Melissa4, Russell Jacob A.3, Oliver Kerry M.ORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Department of Entomology University of Georgia Athens Georgia, USA
2 : Laboratoire de Génétique et Pathologie des Mollusques Marins, IFREMER, La Tremblade, France
3 : Department of Biology Drexel University Philadelphia Pennsylvania ,USA
4 : Department of Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Science Drexel University Philadelphia ,Pennsylvania ,USA
Source Environmental Microbiology (1462-2912) (Wiley), 2023-12 , Vol. 25 , N. 12 , P. 3333-3348
DOI 10.1111/1462-2920.16520

Heritable, facultative symbionts are common in arthropods, often functioning in host defence. Despite moderately reduced genomes, facultative symbionts retain evolutionary potential through mobile genetic elements (MGEs). MGEs form the primary basis of strain‐level variation in genome content and architecture, and often correlate with variability in symbiont‐mediated phenotypes. In pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum), strain‐level variation in the type of toxin‐encoding bacteriophages (APSEs) carried by the bacterium Hamiltonella defensa correlates with strength of defence against parasitoids. However, co‐inheritance creates difficulties for partitioning their relative contributions to aphid defence. Here we identified isolates of H. defensa that were nearly identical except for APSE type. When holding H. defensa genotype constant, protection levels corresponded to APSE virulence module type. Results further indicated that APSEs move repeatedly within some H. defensa clades providing a mechanism for rapid evolution in anti‐parasitoid defences. Strain variation in H. defensa also correlates with the presence of a second symbiont Fukatsuia symbiotica. Predictions that nutritional interactions structured this coinfection were not supported by comparative genomics, but bacteriocin‐containing plasmids unique to co‐infecting strains may contribute to their common pairing. In conclusion, strain diversity, and joint capacities for horizontal transfer of MGEs and symbionts, are emergent players in the rapid evolution of arthropods.

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Patel Vilas, Lynn‐bell Nicole, Chevignon Germain, Kucuk Roy A., Higashi Clesson H. V., Carpenter Melissa, Russell Jacob A., Oliver Kerry M. (2023). Mobile elements create strain‐level variation in the services conferred by an aphid symbiont. Environmental Microbiology, 25(12), 3333-3348. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :