Anja Zöllmer

Freie Universität Berlin, Berlín, Berlin, Germany

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Publications (2)3.99 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Wolbachia are obligatory, cytoplasmatically inherited alpha-proteobacteria, which are common endosymbionts in arthropods where they may cause reproductive abnormalities. Many insects are well known to protect themselves from deleterious microorganisms by antibiotic components. In this study, we addressed the question whether Wolbachia are able to infect insects containing antimicrobial anthraquinones and anthrones, and if so, whether these genotypes of Wolbachia comprise a monophyletic cluster within one of the known supergroups. Leaf beetles of the taxon Galerucini (Galerucinae) are known to contain 1,8-dihydroxylated anthraquinones and anthrones. Also, the scale insect Dactylopius contains an anthraquinone glycoside, carminic acid. Our analyses revealed that a representative of the Galerucini, Galeruca tanaceti and Dactylopius, are indeed infected by endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria. Phylogenetic analysis of the wsp and ftsZ genes of these bacteria revealed that strains in G. tanaceti cluster in supergroup A, whereas those present in Dactylopius are distinctive from each other and from those of G. tanaceti. They are clustering in supergroups A and B. Wolbachia strains present in close, but anthraquinone-free relatives of G. tanaceti were shown to belong also to supergroup A. From these results, we can conclude (1) a double infection in Dactylopius, (2) that the presence of antimicrobial compounds such as anthraquinones does not necessarily protect insects from infection by Wolbachia, and (3) that genotypes of Wolbachia-infecting anthraquinone-containing insects most likely do not comprise a unique genotype. These results show that Wolbachia bacteria might be adapted to cope even with conditions usually detrimental to other bacteria and that these adaptations are widespread among Wolbachia supergroups.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2007 · Microbial Ecology
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    ABSTRACT: Eggs of leaf beetles of the tribe Galerucini, subfamily Galerucinae, contain polyketides that are unusual in insects: 1,8-dihydroxylated anthraquinones (chrysazin, chrysophanol) and anthrones (dithranol, chrysarobin) deterring predators. The host plants do not contain these compounds. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that the beetles, but not bacterial or fungal microorganisms living as endosymbionts within the beetles, produce the anthraquinones. The tansy leaf beetle Galeruca tanaceti was used as Galerucini model organism. It was treated with antimicrobial substances to eradicate the microorganisms and inhibit the hypothesised endosymbiotic anthraquinone production. Despite treatment, female G. tanaceti laid eggs containing anthraquinones. Although broad spectrum antimicrobials were used, it cannot be excluded that the potential endosymbiotic microorganisms are resistant. Given that the hypothesised endosymbionts are transferred via the eggs from one generation to the next, bacterial or fungal DNA was expected to be present in the eggs. With the exception of Wolbachia pipientis, however, no further 16S rDNA from bacteria responsible for anthraquinone biosynthesis was detected in eggs of untreated beetles. Because Wolbachia were also found in closely related anthraquinone-free insects, we exclude these bacteria as producers of the defensive polyketides. Nor was any 18S rDNA from fungi with anthraquinone biosynthetic abilities detected. Our results indicate that anthraquinones and anthrones in eggs of Galerucini are produced by beetle enzymes and not by endosymbiotic microorganisms within the eggs.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2007 · Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology

Publication Stats

19 Citations
3.99 Total Impact Points


  • 2007
    • Freie Universität Berlin
      • Institute of Biology
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany