Small but powerful, the primary endosymbiont of moss bugs, candidatus evansia muelleri, holds a reduced genome with large biosynthetic capabilities

  • Santos-Garcia D
  • Latorre A
  • Moya A
 et al. 
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Moss bugs (Coleorrhyncha: Peloridiidae) are members of the order Hemiptera, and like many hemipterans, they have symbiotic associations with intracellular bacteria to fulfill nutritional requirements resulting from their unbalanced diet. The primary endosymbiont of the moss bugs, Candidatus Evansia muelleri, is phylogenetically related to Candidatus Carsonella ruddii and Candidatus Portiera aleyrodidarum, primary endosymbionts of psyllids and whiteflies, respectively. In this work, we report the genome of Candidatus Evansia muelleri Xc1 from Xenophyes cascus, which is the only obligate endosymbiont present in the association. This endosymbiont possesses an extremely reduced genome similar to Carsonella and Portiera. It has crossed the borderline to be considered as an autonomous cell, requiring the support of the insect host for some housekeeping cell functions. Interestingly, in spite of its small genome size, Evansia maintains enriched amino acid (complete or partial pathways for ten essential and six nonessential amino acids) and sulfur metabolisms, probably related to the poor diet of the insect, based on bryophytes, which contains very low levels of nitrogenous and sulfur compounds. Several facts, including the congruence of host (moss bugs, whiteflies, and psyllids) and endosymbiont phylogenies and the retention of the same ribosomal RNA operon during genome reduction in Evansia, Portiera, and Carsonella, suggest the existence of an ancient endosymbiotic Halomonadaceae clade associated with Hemiptera. Three possible scenarios for the origin of these three primary endosymbiont genera are proposed and discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Endosymbiont
  • Genome reduction
  • Halomonadaceae
  • Metabolic complementation
  • Mutualism

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  • Diego Santos-Garcia

  • Amparo Latorre

  • Andrés Moya

  • George Gibbs

  • Viktor Hartung

  • Konrad Dettner

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