Mutualists and Parasites: How to Paint Yourself Into a (Metabolic) Corner

FEBS Lett. 2001 Jun 8;498(2-3):135-9. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(01)02459-0.


Eukaryotes have developed an elaborate series of interactions with bacteria that enter their bodies and/or cells. Genome evolution of symbiotic and parasitic bacteria multiplying inside eukaryotic cells results in both convergent and divergent changes. The genome sequences of the symbiotic bacteria of aphids, Buchnera aphidicola, and the parasitic bacteria of body louse and humans, Rickettsia prowazekii, provide insights into these processes. Convergent genome characteristics include reduction in genome sizes and lowered G+C content values. Divergent evolution was recorded for amino acid and cell wall biosynthetic genes. The presence of pseudogenes in both genomes provides examples of recent gene inactivation events and offers clues to the process of genome deterioration and host-cell adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Aphids / microbiology*
  • Buchnera / genetics*
  • Buchnera / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Pediculus / microbiology*
  • Rickettsia prowazekii / genetics*
  • Rickettsia prowazekii / physiology
  • Symbiosis