An endosymbiont is any Greek: ἔνδον endon "within", σύν syn "together" and βίωσις biosis "living"). Examples are nitrogen-fixing bacteria (called rhizobia), which live in root nodules on legume roots, single-cell algae inside reef-building corals, and bacterial endosymbionts that provide essential nutrients to about 10–15% of insects.
Many instances of endosymbiosis are obligate; that is, either the endosymbiont or the host cannot survive without the other, such as the gutless marine worms of the genus Riftia, which get nutrition from their endosymbiotic bacteria. The most common examples of obligate endosymbioses are mitochondria and chloroplasts. Some human parasites, e.g. Wuchereria bancrofti and Mansonella perstans, thrive in their intermediate insect hosts because of an obligate endosymbiosis with Wolbachia spp. They can both be eliminated from said hosts by treatments that target this bacterium. However, not all endosymbioses are obligate. Also, some endosymbioses can be harmful to either of the organisms involved.
It is generally agreed that certain eukaryotic cell, especially mitochondria and plastids such as chloroplasts, originated as bacterial endosymbionts. This theory is called the endosymbiotic theory, and was first articulated by the Russian botanist Konstantin Mereschkowski in 1910, even though the first paper that referenced this theory was published in 1905.
- Endosymbiosis theory and mitochondria and chloroplasts 1
- Bacterial endosymbionts in marine invertebrates 2
- Symbiodinium dinoflagellate endosymbionts in marine metazoa and protists 3
- Endosymbionts in protists 4
- Bacterial endosymbionts in insects 5
- Viral endosymbionts and endogenous retrovirus 6
- See also 7
- Notes 8
References and external links 9
- Obligate bacterial endosymbiosis in marine oligochaetes 9.1
- Bacterial endosymbionts in echinoderms 9.2
- Obligate bacterial endosymbionts in insects 9.3
Endosymbiosis theory and mitochondria and chloroplasts
The endosymbiosis theory explains the origins of organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts in eukaryotic cells. The theory proposes that chloroplasts and mitochondria evolved from certain types of bacteria that eukaryotic cells engulfed through endophagocytosis. These cells and the bacteria trapped inside them entered a symbiotic relationship, a close association between different types of organisms over an extended time. However, to be specific, the relationship was endosymbiotic, meaning that one of the organisms (the bacteria) lived within the other (the eukaryotic cells).
According to endosymbiosis theory, an anaerobic cell probably ingested an cilia, flagella, centrioles, and microtubules may have originated from a symbiosis between a Spirochaete bacterium and an early eukaryotic cell, but this is not widely accepted among biologists.
There are several examples of evidence that support endosymbiosis theory. Mitochondria and chloroplasts contain their own small supply of nucleotide base composition favoring adenine and thymine, at the expense of guanine and cytosine.
Further evidence of endosymbiosis are the prokaryotic ribosomes found within chloroplasts and mitochondria as well as the double-membrane enclosing them. It used to be widely assumed that the inner membrane is the original membrane of the once independent prokaryote, while the outer one is the food vacuole (phagosomal membrane) it was enclosed in initially. However, this view neglects the fact that i) both modern cyanobacteria and alpha-proteobacteria are Gram-negative bacteria, which are surrounded by double membranes; ii) the outer membranes of the endosymbiotic organelles (chloroplasts and mitochondria) are very similar to those of these bacteria in their lipid and protein compositions. Accumulating biochemical data strongly suggests that the double-membrane-enclosing chloroplasts and mitochondria derived from those of the ancestral bacteria, and the phagosomal membrane disappeared during organelle evolution. Triple or quadruple membranes are found among certain algae, probably resulting from repeated endosymbiosis (although little else was retained of the engulfed cell).
These modern organisms with endosymbiotic relationships with aerobic bacteria have verified the endosymbiotic theory, which explains the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts from bacteria. Researchers in molecular and evolutionary biology no longer question this theory, although some of the details, such as the mechanisms for loss of genes from organelles to host nuclear genomes, are still being worked out.
Bacterial endosymbionts in marine invertebrates
Extracellular endosymbionts are also represented in all four extant classes of Echinodermata (Crinoidea, Ophiuroidea, Echinoidea, and Holothuroidea). Little is known of the nature of the association (mode of infection, transmission, metabolic requirements, etc.) but phylogenetic analysis indicates that these symbionts belong to the alpha group of the class Proteobacteria, relating them to Rhizobium and Thiobacillus. Other studies indicate that these subcuticular bacteria may be both abundant within their hosts and widely distributed among the Echinoderms in general.
Some marine oligochaeta (e.g., Olavius or Inanidrillus) have obligate extracellular endosymbionts that fill the entire body of their host. These marine worms are nutritionally dependent on their symbiotic chemoautotrophic bacteria lacking any digestive or excretory system (no gut, mouth, or nephridia).
Dinoflagellate endosymbionts of the genus Symbiodinium, commonly known as zooxanthellae, are found in corals, mollusks (esp. giant clams, the Tridacna), sponges, and foraminifera. These endosymbionts drive the amazing formation of coral reefs by capturing sunlight and providing their hosts with energy for carbonate deposition.
Previously thought to be a single species, molecular phylogenetic evidence over the past couple decades has shown there to be great diversity in Symbiodinium. In some cases, there is specificity between host and Symbiodinium clade. More often, however, there is an ecological distribution of Symbiodinium, the symbionts switching between hosts with apparent ease. When reefs become environmentally stressed, this distribution of symbionts is related to the observed pattern of coral bleaching and recovery. Thus, the distribution of Symbiodinium on coral reefs and its role in coral bleaching presents one of the most complex and interesting current problems in reef ecology.
Endosymbionts in protists
Mixotricha paradoxa is a protozoan that lacks mitochondria. However, spherical bacteria live inside the cell and serve the function of the mitochondria. Mixotricha also has three other species of symbionts that live on the surface of the cell.
Bacterial endosymbionts in insects
Scientists classify insect endosymbionts in two broad categories, 'Primary' and 'Secondary'. Primary endosymbionts (sometimes referred to as P-endosymbionts) have been associated with their insect hosts for many millions of years (from 10 to several hundred million years in some cases). They form obligate associations (see below), and display cospeciation with their insect hosts. Secondary endosymbionts exhibit a more recently developed association, are sometimes horizontally transferred between hosts, live in the hemolymph of the insects (not specialized bacteriocytes, see below), and are not obligate.
Among primary endosymbionts of insects, the best-studied are the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and its endosymbiont Buchnera sp. APS, the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans morsitans and its endosymbiont Wigglesworthia glossinidia brevipalpis and the endosymbiotic protists in lower termites. As with endosymbiosis in other insects, the symbiosis is obligate in that neither the bacteria nor the insect is viable without the other. Scientists have been unable to cultivate the bacteria in lab conditions outside of the insect. With special nutritionally-enhanced diets, the insects can survive, but are unhealthy, and at best survive only a few generations.
In some insect groups, these endosymbionts live in specialized insect cells called bacteriocytes (also called mycetocytes), and are maternally-transmitted, i.e. the mother transmits her endosymbionts to her offspring. In some cases, the bacteria are transmitted in the egg, as in Buchnera; in others like Wigglesworthia, they are transmitted via milk to the developing insect embryo. In termites, the endosymbionts reside within the hindguts and are transmitted through trophallaxis among colony members.
The primary endosymbionts are thought to help the host either by providing nutrients that the host cannot obtain itself or by metabolizing insect waste products into safer forms. For example, the putative primary role of Buchnera is to synthesize essential amino acids that the aphid cannot acquire from its natural diet of plant sap. Likewise, the primary role of Wigglesworthia, it is presumed, is to synthesize vitamins that the tsetse fly does not get from the blood that it eats. In lower termites, the endosymbiotic protists play a major role in the digestion of lignocellulosic materials that constitute a bulk of the termites' diet.
Bacteria benefit from the reduced exposure to predators and competition from other bacterial species, the ample supply of nutrients and relative environmental stability inside the host.
Genome sequencing reveals that obligate bacterial endosymbionts of insects have among the smallest of known bacterial genomes and have lost many genes that are commonly found in closely related bacteria. Several theories have been put forth to explain the loss of genes. It is presumed that some of these genes are not needed in the environment of the host insect cell. A complementary theory suggests that the relatively small numbers of bacteria inside each insect decrease the efficiency of natural selection in 'purging' deleterious mutations and small mutations from the population, resulting in a loss of genes over many millions of years. Research in which a parallel phylogeny of bacteria and insects was inferred supports the belief that the primary endosymbionts are transferred only vertically (i.e., from the mother), and not horizontally (i.e., by escaping the host and entering a new host).
Attacking obligate bacterial endosymbionts may present a way to control their insect hosts, many of which pests or carriers of human disease. For example aphids are crop pests and the tsetse fly carries the organism Trypanosoma brucei that causes African sleeping sickness. Other motivations for their study is to understand symbiosis, and to understand how bacteria with severely depleted genomes are able to survive, thus improving our knowledge of genetics and molecular biology.
Less is known about secondary endosymbionts. The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is known to contain at least three secondary endosymbionts, Hamiltonella defensa, Regiella insecticola, and Serratia symbiotica . H. defensa aids in defending the insect from parasitoids. Sodalis glossinidius is a secondary endosymbiont of tsetse flies that lives inter- and intracellularly in various host tissues, including the midgut and hemolymph. Phylogenetic studies have not indicated a correlation between evolution of Sodalis and tsetse. Unlike tsetse's P-symbiont Wigglesworthia, though, Sodalis has been cultured in vitro.
Viral endosymbionts and endogenous retrovirus
During pregnancy in viviparous mammals, endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are activated and produced in high quantities during the implantation of the embryo. On one hand, they act as immunodepressors, and protect the embryo from the immune system of the mother, and on the other hand viral fusion proteins cause the formation of the placental syncytium in order to limit the exchange of migratory cells between the developing embryo and the body of the mother, where an epithelium will not be adequate because certain blood cells are specialized to be able to insert themselves between adjacent epithelial cells. The ERV is a virus similar to HIV (the virus causing AIDS in humans). The immunodepressive action was the initial normal behavior of the virus, similar to HIV. The fusion proteins was a way to spread the infection to other cells by simply merging them with the infected one (similar to HIV). It is believed that the ancestors of modern viviparous mammals evolved after an accidental infection of an ancestor with this virus, which permitted the fetus to survive the immune system of the mother.
The human genome project found several thousand ERVs, which are organized into 24 families.
- List of symbiotic organisms
- List of symbiotic relationships
- Multigenomic organism
- Mereschkowsky, Konstantin (1910). "Theorie der zwei Plasmaarten als Grundlage der Symbiogenesis, einer neuen Lehre von der Ent‐stehung der Organismen.". Biol Centralbl. 30: 353‐367.
- Mereschkowsky C (1905). "Über Natur und Ursprung der Chromatophoren im Pflanzenreiche". Biol Centralbl 25: 593–604.
- Tree of Life Eukaryotes
- Inoue, K (2007). "The chloroplast outer envelope membrane: the edge of light and excitement". Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 49 (8): 1100–1111.
- Baker AC (November 2003). "FLEXIBILITY AND SPECIFICITY IN CORAL-ALGAL SYMBIOSIS: Diversity, Ecology, and Biogeography of Symbiodinium". Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 34: 661–89.
- Douglas, A E (1998). "Nutritional interactions in insect-microbial symbioses: Aphids and their symbiotic bacteria Buchnera". Annual Review of Entomology 43: 17–38.
- Aksoy, S., Pourhosseini, A. & Chow, A. 1995. Mycetome endosymbionts of tsetse flies constitute a distinct lineage related to Enterobacteriaceae. Insect Mol Biol. 4, 15-22.
- Welburn, S.C., Maudlin, I. & Ellis, D.S. 1987. In vitro cultivation of rickettsia-like-organisms from Glossina spp. Ann. Trop. Med. Parasitol. 81, 331-335.
- The Viruses That Make Us: A Role For Endogenous Retrovirus In The Evolution Of Placental Species (by Luis P. Villarreal)
- Villarreal LP (October 2001). "Persisting Viruses Could Play Role in Driving Host Evolution". ASM News (American Society for Microbiology).
Obligate bacterial endosymbiosis in marine oligochaetes
- Dubilier N, Mülders C, Ferdelman T, et al (May 2001). "Endosymbiotic sulphate-reducing and sulphide-oxidizing bacteria in an oligochaete worm". Nature 411 (6835): 298–302.
Bacterial endosymbionts in echinoderms
- Burnett WJ, McKenzie JD (1 May 1997). (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) represent a new lineage of extracellular marine symbionts in the alpha subdivision of the class Proteobacteria"Ophiactis balli"Subcuticular bacteria from the brittle star . Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63 (5): 1721–4.
Obligate bacterial endosymbionts in insects
- Wernegreen JJ (2004). "Primer – Endosymbiosis: Lessons in Conflict Resolution". PLoS Biol 2 (3): e68.
- A general review of bacterial endosymbionts in insects. P. Baumann, N. A. Moran and L. Baumann, Bacteriocyte-associated endosymbionts of insects in M. Dworkin, ed., The prokaryotes, Springer, New York, 2000. http://link.springer.de/link/service/books/10125/
- Wernegreen JJ (November 2002). "Genome evolution in bacterial endosymbionts of insects". Nat. Rev. Genet. 3 (11): 850–61.
- Douglas AE (January 1998). "Buchnera"Nutritional interactions in insect-microbial symbioses: Aphids and Their Symbiotic Bacteria . Annual Reviews of Entomology 43: 17–37.
- Aksoy S, Maudlin I, Dale C, Robinson AS, O'Neill SL (January 2001). "Prospects for control of African trypanosomiasis by tsetse vector manipulation". Trends Parasitol. 17 (1): 29–35.
- Shigenobu S, Watanabe H, Hattori M, Sakaki Y, Ishikawa H (September 2000). "Genome sequence of the endocellular bacterial symbiont of aphids Buchnera sp. APS". Nature 407 (6800): 81–6.
- Moran NA (April 1996). "Accelerated evolution and Muller's rachet in endosymbiotic bacteria". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 93 (7): 2873–8.