Reductive evolution of bacterial genome in insect gut environment

Genome Biol Evol. 2011:3:702-14. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evr064. Epub 2011 Jul 6.


Obligate endocellular symbiotic bacteria of insects and other organisms generally exhibit drastic genome reduction. Recently, it was shown that symbiotic gut bacteria of some stinkbugs also have remarkably reduced genomes. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of such a gut bacterium Ishikawaella capsulata of the plataspid stinkbug Megacopta punctatissima. Gene repertoire and evolutionary patterns, including AT richness and elevated evolutionary rate, of the 745,590 bp genome were strikingly similar to those of obligate γ-proteobacterial endocellular insect symbionts like Buchnera in aphids and Wigglesworthia in tsetse flies. Ishikawaella was suggested to supply essential amino acids for the plant-sucking stinkbug as Buchnera does for the host aphid. Although Buchnera is phylogenetically closer to Wigglesworthia than to Ishikawaella, in terms of gene repertoire Buchnera was similar to Ishikawaella rather than to Wigglesworthia, providing a possible case of genome-level convergence of gene content. Meanwhile, several notable differences were identified between the genomes of Ishikawaella and Buchnera, including retention of TCA cycle genes and lack of flagellum-related genes in Ishikawaella, which may reflect their adaptation to distinct symbiotic habitats. Unexpectedly, Ishikawaella retained fewer genes related to cell wall synthesis and lipid metabolism than many endocellular insect symbionts. The plasmid of Ishikawaella encoded genes for arginine metabolism and oxalate detoxification, suggesting the possibility of additional Ishikawaella roles similar to those of human gut bacteria. Our data highlight strikingly similar evolutionary patterns that are shared between the extracellular and endocellular insect symbiont genomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphids / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Buchnera / genetics
  • Enterobacteriaceae / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Heteroptera / genetics
  • Humans
  • Insecta / microbiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Symbiosis / genetics
  • Wigglesworthia / genetics*

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AP010872
  • GENBANK/AP010873