Biology bacteriocyte-associated endosymbionts of plant sap-sucking insects

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2005;59:155-89. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.59.030804.121041.


Psyllids, whiteflies, aphids, and mealybugs are members of the suborder Sternorrhyncha and share a common property, namely the utilization of plant sap as their food source. Each of these insect groups has an obligatory association with a different prokaryotic endosymbiont, and the association is the result of a single infection followed by maternal, vertical transmission of the endosymbionts. The result of this association is the domestication of the free-living bacterium to serve the purposes of the host, namely the synthesis of essential amino acids. This domestication is probably in all cases accompanied by a major reduction in genome size. The different properties of the genomes and fragments of the genomes of these endosymbionts suggest that there are different constraints on the permissible evolutionary changes that are probably a function of the gene repertoire of the endosymbiont ancestor and the gene losses that occurred during the reduction of genome size.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betaproteobacteria / classification
  • Betaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Betaproteobacteria / physiology*
  • Gammaproteobacteria / classification
  • Gammaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Gammaproteobacteria / physiology*
  • Hemiptera / genetics
  • Hemiptera / microbiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Symbiosis / physiology*