Macroevolutionary persistence of heritable endosymbionts: acquisition, retention and expression of adaptive phenotypes in Spiroplasma

  title={Macroevolutionary persistence of heritable endosymbionts: acquisition, retention and expression of adaptive phenotypes in Spiroplasma},
  author={Tamara S. Haselkorn and John Jaenike},
  journal={Molecular Ecology},
The phylogenetic incongruence between insects and their facultative maternally transmitted endosymbionts indicates that these infections are generally short‐lived evolutionarily. Therefore, long‐term persistence of many endosymbionts must depend on their ability to colonize and spread within new host species. At least 17 species of Drosophila are infected with endosymbiotic Spiroplasma that have various phenotypic effects. We transinfected five strains of Spiroplasma from three divergent clades… 

Horizontal transfer of facultative endosymbionts is limited by host relatedness

It is found the symbiont Hamiltonella defensa establishes infections more easily following a transfer from the same host species and that such infections are more stable.

The evolutionary ecology of an insect-bacterial mutualism

It is shown that the vertical transmission of Spiroplasma hy1 is more robust to the cool temperatures typical of temperate breeding seasons than previously considered, and that hy1 has an unusually low standing cost to its host under starvation stress, contrasting with findings for the related MSRO strain in D. melanogaster.

Rapid molecular evolution of Spiroplasma symbionts of Drosophila

Comparison across diverse Spiroplasma lineages confirms previous reports of dynamic evolution of toxins, and identifies loci similar to the male-killing toxin Spaid in several Spiro plasmata lineages and other endosymbionts.

Independent origins of resistance or susceptibility of parasitic wasps to a defensive symbiont

This study searched for similar patterns in an emerging model system for defensive mutualisms: the interaction of Drosophila, bacteria in the genus Spiroplasma, and wasps that parasitize larval stages of Drosephila, and uncovered two additional wasp species that are susceptible to Spiro Plasma and two that are unaffected by Spiro plasma.

The Role of Lipid Competition for Endosymbiont-Mediated Protection against Parasitoid Wasps in Drosophila

The results indicate that S. poulsonii exerts protection against two distantly related wasp species, Leptopilina boulardi and Asobara tabida, and propose that lipid competition-based protection may not be restricted to Spiroplasma bacteria but could also apply other endosymbionts, notably Wolbachia bacteria, which can suppress human disease-causing viruses in insect hosts.

Effect of heritable symbionts on maternally-derived embryo transcripts

It is found that RIP-induced damage contributes to male embryo death, and there is no consistent evidence of influence of symbiont on mRNA composition of early embryos, suggesting that the reproductive manipulation mechanism does not involve alteration of maternally-loaded transcripts.

What Goes Up Might Come Down: the Spectacular Spread of an Endosymbiont Is Followed by Its Decline a Decade Later

Neither association between Rickettsia titer and fitness benefits or sex ratio bias nor evidence thatRickettsia was replaced by another secondary symbiont was found, which may explain the drop in symbionts frequency in 2016 whiteflies.

Effect of the Genotypic Variation of an Aphid Host on the Endosymbiont Associations in Natural Host Populations

Examination of the seasonal dynamic of facultative endosymbiont infections among different host clones of the grain aphid Sitobion avenae and whether their presence affects the total hymenopteran parasitism of aphid hosts at the field level highlights how genotypic variation of hosts can affect the endosYmbionts prevalence in the field.

The specificity of Burkholderia symbionts in the social amoeba farming symbiosis: Prevalence, species, genetic and phenotypic diversity

The Burkholderia–Dictyostelium relationship provides a promising arena for further studies of the pathway to symbiosis in a unique system.




It is concluded that Spiroplasma has the potential to spread and become abundant within Drosophila putrida, which is broadly sympatric with D. neotestacea and in which females are rendered completely sterile by nematode parasitism.

Multiple introductions of the Spiroplasma bacterial endosymbiont into Drosophila

A multilocus sequence analysis is used to reconstruct a robust Spiroplasma endosymbiont phylogeny, assess genetic diversity, and look for evidence of recombination in Drosophila populations.

Association between Wolbachia and Spiroplasma within Drosophila neotestacea: an emerging symbiotic mutualism?

Collection from present‐day populations suggest that recent spread and mutualism have both operated to generate the positive association between Wolbachia and Spiroplasma, and if selection acts on the combination of these two endosymbionts, they may be in the early stages of evolution of a more complex, cooperative association.

Spiroplasma Bacteria Enhance Survival of Drosophila hydei Attacked by the Parasitic Wasp Leptopilina heterotoma

The results suggest that Spiroplasma confers protection to D. hydei against wasp parasitism, to the authors' knowledge the first report of a potential defensive mutualism in the genus Spiro Plasma.

Male killing Spiroplasma protects Drosophila melanogaster against two parasitoid wasps

The results indicate that Spiroplasma MSRO prevents successful development of both wasps, and confers a small, albeit significant, increase in larva-to-adult survival of flies subjected to wasp attacks, and the conditions under which defense can contribute to Spiro Plasma persistence are modeled.

Interspecific transmission of endosymbiotic Spiroplasma by mites

Ectoparasitic mites, which feed on insect haemolymph, can serve as interspecific vectors of Spiroplasma poulsonii, a male-killing endosymbiont of Drosophila, and it is found that mites can pick up Spiraplasma from infected Drosphila nebulosa females and subsequently transfer the infection to Dosophila willistoni.


  • J. Jaenike
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 2007
It is shown that a transition from CI to MK can occur almost instantaneously on an evolutionary time scale, which suggests that MK and CI may share a similar underlying molecular basis.

Can maternally inherited endosymbionts adapt to a novel host? Direct costs of Spiroplasma infection, but not vertical transmission efficiency, evolve rapidly after horizontal transfer into D. melanogaster

It is observed that effects on host fitness evolved rapidly, being undetectable after 17 generations in the novel host, whereas vertical transmission efficiency was poorly responsive over this period, suggesting that long-term symbiosis may more readily be established in cases where symbionts perform poorly in just one aspect of symbiosis.

Dynamics of the continent-wide spread of a Drosophila defensive symbiont.

Spiroplasma was detected west of the Rocky Mountains for the first time and it was shown that defence against nematodes occurs in flies with a western genetic background, which indicates that nematode infection is common throughout D. neotestacea's range and is expected to spread to the Pacific coast.

The Spiroplasma heritable bacterial endosymbiont of Drosophila

Spiroplasma is the only identified heritable bacterial endosymbiont of Drosophila, other than Wolbachia, and can serve as a useful as model for elucidating the nature of insect/bacterial interactions.