Characterization of an obligate intracellular bacterium in the midgut epithelium of the bulrush bug Chilacis typhae (Heteroptera, Lygaeidae, Artheneinae)

  • Kuechler S
  • Dettner K
  • Kehl S
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Many members of the suborder Heteroptera have symbiotic bacteria, which are usually found extracellularly in specific sacs or tubular outgrowths of the midgut or intracellularly in mycetomes. In this study, we describe the second molecular characterization of a symbiotic bacterium in a monophagous, seed-sucking stink bug of the family Lygaeidae (sensu stricto). Chilacis typhae possesses at the end of the first section of the midgut a structure which is composed of circularly arranged, strongly enlarged midgut epithelial cells. It is filled with an intracellular endosymbiont. This "mycetocytic belt" might represent an evolutionarily intermediate stage of the usual symbiotic structures found in stink bugs. Phylogenetic analysis based on the 16S rRNA and the groEL genes showed that the bacterium belongs to the Gammaproteobacteria, and it revealed a phylogenetic relationship with a secondary bacterial endosymbiont of Cimex lectularius and free-living plant pathogens such as Pectobacterium and Dickeya. The distribution and ultrastructure of the rod-shaped Chilacis endosymbiont were studied in adults and nymph stages using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and electron microscopy. The detection of symbionts at the anterior poles of developing eggs indicates that endosymbionts are transmitted vertically. A new genus and species name, "Candidatus Rohrkolberia cinguli," is proposed for this newly characterized clade of symbiotic bacteria.

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  • Stefan Martin Kuechler

  • Konrad Dettner

  • Siegfried Kehl

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