Journal Article

Comparative Genomics of <i>Blattabacterium cuenoti</i>: The Frozen Legacy of an Ancient Endosymbiont Genome

Rafael Patiño-Navarrete, Andrés Moya, Amparo Latorre and Juli Peretó

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 5, issue 2, pages 351-361
Published in print January 2013 |
Published online January 2013 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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Many insect species have established long-term symbiotic relationships with intracellular bacteria. Symbiosis with bacteria has provided insects with novel ecological capabilities, which have allowed them colonize previously unexplored niches. Despite its importance to the understanding of the emergence of biological complexity, the evolution of symbiotic relationships remains hitherto a mystery in evolutionary biology. In this study, we contribute to the investigation of the evolutionary leaps enabled by mutualistic symbioses by sequencing the genome of Blattabacterium cuenoti, primary endosymbiont of the omnivorous cockroach Blatta orientalis, and one of the most ancient symbiotic associations. We perform comparative analyses between the Blattabacterium cuenoti genome and that of previously sequenced endosymbionts, namely those from the omnivorous hosts the Blattella germanica (Blattelidae) and Periplaneta americana (Blattidae), and the endosymbionts harbored by two wood-feeding hosts, the subsocial cockroach Cryptocercus punctulatus (Cryptocercidae) and the termite Mastotermes darwiniensis (Termitidae). Our study shows a remarkable evolutionary stasis of this symbiotic system throughout the evolutionary history of cockroaches and the deepest branching termite M. darwiniensis, in terms of not only chromosome architecture but also gene content, as revealed by the striking conservation of the Blattabacterium core genome. Importantly, the architecture of central metabolic network inferred from the endosymbiont genomes was established very early in Blattabacterium evolutionary history and could be an outcome of the essential role played by this endosymbiont in the host’s nitrogen economy.

Keywords: Blattabacterium endosymbiont; Blatta orientalis; nitrogen metabolism; pan-genome; urease; genome reduction

Journal Article.  5770 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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