[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The gut microorganisms in some animals are reported to include a core microbiota of consistently associated bacteria that is ecologically distinctive and may have coevolved with the host. The core microbiota is promoted by positive interactions among bacteria, favoring shared persistence; its retention over evolutionary timescales is evident as congruence between host phylogeny and bacterial community composition. This study applied multiple analyses to investigate variation in the composition of gut microbiota in drosophilid flies. First, the prevalence of five previously described gut bacteria (Acetobacter and Lactobacillus species) in individual flies of 21 strains (10 Drosophila species) were determined. Most bacteria were not present in all individuals of most strains, and bacterial species pairs co-occurred in individual flies less frequently than predicted by chance, contrary to expectations of a core microbiota. A complementary pyrosequencing analysis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons from the gut microbiota of 11 Drosophila species identified 209 bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs), with near-saturating sampling of sequences, but none of the OTUs was common to all host species. Furthermore, in both of two independent sets of Drosophila species, the gut bacterial community composition was not congruent with host phylogeny. The final analysis identified no common OTUs across three wild and four laboratory samples of D. melanogaster. Our results yielded no consistent evidence for a core microbiota in Drosophila. We conclude that the taxonomic composition of gut microbiota varies widely within and among Drosophila populations and species. This is reminiscent of the patterns of bacterial composition in guts of some other animals, including humans.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 30 May 2013; doi:10.1038/ismej.2013.86.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The specificity of a horizontally transmitted microbial symbiosis is often defined by molecular communication between host and microbe during initial engagement, which can occur in discrete stages. In the symbiosis between Steinernema nematodes and Xenorhabdus bacteria, previous investigations focused on bacterial colonization of the intestinal lumen (receptacle) of the nematode infective juvenile (IJ), as this was the only known persistent, intimate, and species-specific contact between the two. Here we show that bacteria colonize the anterior intestinal cells of other nematode developmental stages in a species-specific manner. Also, we describe three processes that only occur in juveniles that are destined to become IJs. First, a few bacterial cells colonize the nematode pharyngeal-intestinal valve (PIV) anterior to the intestinal epithelium. Second, the nematode intestine constricts while bacteria initially remain in the PIV. Third, anterior intestinal constriction relaxes and colonizing bacteria occupy the receptacle. At each stage, colonization requires X. nematophilasymbiosis region 1 (SR1) genes and is species-specific: X. szentirmaii, which naturally lacks SR1, does not colonize unless SR1 is ectopically expressed. These findings reveal new aspects of Xenorhabdus bacteria interactions with and transmission by their Steinernema nematode hosts, and demonstrate that bacterial SR1 genes aid in colonizing nematode epithelial surfaces.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Symbiosis, the intimate association between two or more organisms, is a fundamental component of biological systems. Our ability
to understand the processes involved in the establishment and function of Symbiosis has critical consequences for the health
of humans and the world we live in. For example, a deeper understanding of how legumes and insects have harnessed the nitrogen-fixing
capacity of microbes can pave the way toward novel strategies to decrease fertilizer use. Also, using insect models to elucidate
links between diet, gut microbiota, and toxin sensitivity not only has implications for biological control strategies, but
also will lend insights into similar links in the human gut ecosystem. These types of ideas were presented and discussed at
the 6th International Symbiosis Society Congress held in Madison, Wisconsin August, 2009. Over 300 participants from 20 countries
attended the 7-day event, which featured cutting-edge symbiosis research from many different perspectives and disciplines.
The conference was organized thematically, with oral sessions focused on Evolution, Ecology, Metabolism, the Host-Microbe
Interface, Threats to Earth Systems, Symbiosis Models and the Human Microbiome, Viruses and Organelles, and Symbiosis Education.
World-renowned scientists, post-doctoral fellows, and students were given the opportunity to describe their most recent discoveries.
Session chairs provided overviews of their programs which highlight how the comparative analysis of different systems reveal
common trends underlying symbiotic associations, what tools and theory are being developed that may be applied more broadly
in symbiosis research, how symbiosis research contributing solutions to global issues such as emerging antibiotic resistance,
a need for alternative energy sources, the pursuit of sustainable agriculture and natural resources, and how symbiotic systems
are ideal for educating people about the fascinating natural world around us. The following paragraphs provide an overview
of the research and discussions that took place during the congress.
KeywordsEvolution-Ecology-Metabolic symbiosis-Host-symbiont interface-Human microbiome-Symbiosis models-Restoration ecology-Viruses-Organelles-Education-Career development
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among the diversity of insect-parasitic nematodes, entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are distinct, cooperating with insect-pathogenic bacteria to kill insect hosts. EPNs have adapted specific mechanisms to associate with and transmit bacteria to insects. New discoveries have expanded this guild of nematodes and refine our understanding of the nature and evolution of insect-nematode associations. Here we clarify the meaning of "entomopathogenic" in nematology and argue that EPNs must rapidly kill their hosts with the aid of bacterial partners and must pass on the associated bacteria to future generations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The gammaproteobacterium Xenorhabdus nematophila is a mutualistic symbiont that colonizes the intestine of the nematode Steinernema carpocapsae. nilB (nematode intestine localization) is essential for X. nematophila colonization of nematodes and is predicted to encode an integral outer membrane beta-barrel protein, but evidence supporting this prediction has not been reported. The function of NilB is not known, but when expressed with two other factors encoded by nilA and nilC, it confers upon noncognate Xenorhabdus spp. the ability to colonize S. carpocapsae nematodes. We present evidence that NilB is a surface-exposed outer membrane protein whose expression is repressed by NilR and growth in nutrient-rich medium. Bioinformatic analyses reveal that NilB is the only characterized member of a family of proteins distinguished by N-terminal region tetratricopeptide repeats (TPR) and a conserved C-terminal domain of unknown function (DUF560). Members of this family occur in diverse bacteria and are prevalent in the genomes of mucosal pathogens. Insertion and deletion mutational analyses support a beta-barrel structure model with an N-terminal globular domain, 14 transmembrane strands, and seven extracellular surface loops and reveal critical roles for the globular domain and surface loop 6 in nematode colonization. Epifluorescence microscopy of these mutants demonstrates that NilB is necessary at early stages of colonization. These findings are an important step in understanding the function of NilB and, by extension, its homologs in mucosal pathogens.
Journal of bacteriology 01/2012; 194(7):1763-76. · 3.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Xenorhabdus bovienii (SS-2004) bacteria reside in the intestine of the infective-juvenile (IJ) stage of the entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema jollieti. The recent sequencing of the X. bovienii genome facilitates its use as a model to understand host - symbiont interactions. To provide a biological foundation for such studies, we characterized X. bovienii in vitro and host interaction phenotypes. Within the nematode host X. bovienii was contained within a membrane bound envelope that also enclosed the nematode-derived intravesicular structure. Steinernema jollieti nematodes cultivated on mixed lawns of X. bovienii expressing green or DsRed fluorescent proteins were predominantly colonized by one or the other strain, suggesting the colonizing population is founded by a few cells. Xenorhabdus bovienii exhibits phenotypic variation between orange-pigmented primary form and cream-pigmented secondary form. Each form can colonize IJ nematodes when cultured in vitro on agar. However, IJs did not develop or emerge from Galleria mellonella insects infected with secondary form. Unlike primary-form infected insects that were soft and flexible, secondary-form infected insects retained a rigid exoskeleton structure. Xenorhabdus bovienii primary and secondary form isolates are virulent towards Manduca sexta and several other insects. However, primary form stocks present attenuated virulence, suggesting that X. bovienii, like Xenorhabdus nematophila may undergo virulence modulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nematode Steinernema carpocapsae infects and kills many pest insects in agro-ecosystems and is commonly used in biocontrol of these pests. Growth of the nematodes prior to distribution for biocontrol commonly results in deterioration of traits that are essential for nematode persistence in field applications. To better understand the mechanisms underlying trait deterioration of the efficacy of natural parasitism in entomopathogenic nematodes, we explored the maintenance of fitness related traits including reproductive capacity, heat tolerance, virulence to insects and 'tail standing' (formerly called nictation) among laboratory-cultured lines derived from natural, randomly mating populations of S. carpocapsae. Laboratory cultured nematode lines with fitness-related trait values below wild-type levels regained wild-type levels of reproductive and heat tolerance traits when outcrossed with a non-deteriorated line, while virulence and 'tail standing' did not deteriorate in our experiments. Crossbreeding two trait-deteriorated lines with each other also resulted in restoration of trait means to wild-type levels in most crossbred lines. Our results implicate inbreeding depression as the primary cause of trait deterioration in the laboratory cultured S. carpocapsae. We further suggest the possibility of creating inbred lines purged of deleterious alleles as founders in commercial nematode growth.
International journal for parasitology 03/2011; 41(7):801-9. · 3.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the genus Xenorhabdus are entomopathogenic bacteria that associate with nematodes. The nematode-bacteria pair infects and kills insects, with both partners contributing to insect pathogenesis and the bacteria providing nutrition to the nematode from available insect-derived nutrients. The nematode provides the bacteria with protection from predators, access to nutrients, and a mechanism of dispersal. Members of the bacterial genus Photorhabdus also associate with nematodes to kill insects, and both genera of bacteria provide similar services to their different nematode hosts through unique physiological and metabolic mechanisms. We posited that these differences would be reflected in their respective genomes. To test this, we sequenced to completion the genomes of Xenorhabdus nematophila ATCC 19061 and Xenorhabdus bovienii SS-2004. As expected, both Xenorhabdus genomes encode many anti-insecticidal compounds, commensurate with their entomopathogenic lifestyle. Despite the similarities in lifestyle between Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus bacteria, a comparative analysis of the Xenorhabdus, Photorhabdus luminescens, and P. asymbiotica genomes suggests genomic divergence. These findings indicate that evolutionary changes shaped by symbiotic interactions can follow different routes to achieve similar end points.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(11):e27909. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The success of a biological control agent depends on key traits, particularly reproductive potential, environmental tolerance, and ability to be cultured. These traits can deteriorate rapidly when the biological control agent is reared in culture. Trait deterioration under laboratory conditions has been widely documented in the entomopathogenic nematode (EPN) Heterorhabditis bacteriophora (Hb) but the specific mechanisms behind these genetic processes remain unclear. This research investigates the molecular mechanisms of trait deterioration of two experimental lines of Hb, an inbred line (L5M) and its original parental line (OHB). We generated transcriptional profiles of two experimental lines of Hb, identified the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and validated their differential expression in the deteriorated line.
An expression profiling study was performed between experimental lines L5M and OHB of Hb with probes for 15,220 ESTs from the Hb transcriptome. Microarray analysis showed 1,185 DEGs comprising of 469 down- and 716 up-regulated genes in trait deteriorated nematodes. Analysis of the DEGs showed that trait deterioration involves massive changes of the transcripts encoding enzymes involved in metabolism, signal transduction, virulence and longevity. We observed a pattern of reduced expression of enzymes related to primary metabolic processes and induced secondary metabolism. Expression of sixteen DEGs in trait deteriorated nematodes was validated by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) which revealed similar expression kinetics for all the genes tested as shown by microarray.
As the most closely related major entomopathogen to C. elegans, Hb provides an attractive near-term application for using a model organism to better understand interspecies interactions and to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying trait deterioration in biological control agents. This information could also be used to improve the beneficial traits of biological control agents and better understand fundamental aspects of nematode parasitism and mutualism.