Studies from University of Texas Describe New Findings in Microbial Ecology (Swapping symbionts in spittlebugs: evolutionary replacement of a reduced...

Life Science Weekly |

Studies from University of Texas Describe New Findings in Microbial Ecology (Swapping symbionts in spittlebugs: evolutionary replacement of a reduced genome symbiont) By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Life Science Weekly -- Investigators publish new report on Microbial Ecology. According to news reporting originating from Austin, Texas, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, "Bacterial symbionts that undergo long-term maternal transmission experience elevated fixation of deleterious mutations, resulting in massive loss of genes and changes in gene sequences that appear to limit efficiency of gene products. Potentially, this dwindling of symbiont functionality impacts hosts that depend on these bacteria for nutrition." Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the University of Texas, "One evolutionary escape route is the acquisition of a novel symbiont with a robust genome and metabolic capabilities. Such an acquisition has occurred in an ancestor of Philaenus spumarius, the meadow spittlebug (Insecta: Cercopoidea), which has replaced its ancient association with the tiny genome symbiont Zinderia insecticola (Betaproteobacteria) with an association with a symbiont related to Sodalis glossinidius (Gammaproteobacteria). Spittlebugs feed exclusively on xylem sap, a diet that is low both in essential amino acids and in sugar or other substrates for energy production. The new symbiont genome has undergone proliferation of mobile elements resulting in many gene inactivations; nonetheless, it has selectively maintained genes replacing functions of its predecessor for amino-acid biosynthesis. Whereas ancient symbiont partners typically retain perfectly complementary sets of amino-acid biosynthetic pathways, the novel symbiont introduces some redundancy as it retains some pathways also present in the partner symbionts (Sulcia muelleri). Strikingly, the newly acquired Sodalis-like symbiont retains genes underlying efficient routes of energy production, including a complete TCA cycle, potentially relaxing the severe energy limitations of the xylem-feeding hosts." According to the news editors, the research concluded: "Although evolutionary replacements of ancient symbionts are infrequent, they potentially enable evolutionary and ecological novelty by conferring novel metabolic capabilities to host lineages." For more information on this research see: Swapping symbionts in spittlebugs: evolutionary replacement of a reduced genome symbiont. ISME Journal, 2014;8(6):1237-1246. ISME Journal can be contacted at: Nature Publishing Group, Macmillan Building, 4 Crinan St, London N1 9XW, England. (Nature Publishing Group - www.nature.com/; ISME Journal - www.nature.com/ismej/) The news editors report that additional information may be obtained by contacting R. Koga, Univ Texas Austin, Dept. of Integrat Biol, Austin, TX 78712, United States (see also Microbial Ecology). Keywords for this news article include: Texas, Austin, United States, Microbial Ecology, North and Central America Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC

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