Biotic Host-Pathogen Interactions As Major Drivers of Plastid Endosymbiosis

Trends Plant Sci. 2017 Apr;22(4):316-328. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.12.007. Epub 2017 Jan 12.


The plastid originated 1.5 billion years ago through a primary endosymbiosis involving a heterotrophic eukaryote and an ancient cyanobacterium. Phylogenetic and biochemical evidence suggests that the incipient endosymbiont interacted with an obligate intracellular chlamydial pathogen that housed it in an inclusion. This aspect of the ménage-à-trois hypothesis (MATH) posits that Chlamydiales provided critical novel transporters and enzymes secreted by the pathogens in the host cytosol. This initiated the efflux of photosynthate to both the inclusion lumen and host cytosol. Here we review the experimental evidence supporting the MATH and focus on chlamydial genes that replaced existing cyanobacterial functions. The picture emerging from these studies underlines the importance of chlamydial host-pathogen interactions in the metabolic integration of the primary plastid.

Keywords: T3SS; bacterial conjugation; chlamydia; evolution of plastids; glycogen metabolism; tryptophan synthesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Chlamydia / metabolism
  • Chlamydia / physiology
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Plastids / metabolism*
  • Symbiosis / genetics
  • Symbiosis / physiology*


  • Glycogen