Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Joined at the genes?

25.05.2010
Genomic data reveal surprising insights into the essential partnership between a widespread plant pest and a symbiotic bacterium dwelling within its cells

Aphids leave behind a trail of damaged crops in pursuit of their diet of sap, and a better understanding of the roughly 5,000 known aphid species could prove invaluable in developing safeguards against this agricultural menace.

Unfortunately, they represent a particularly complicated family of insects. For one thing, even genetically identical individuals can manifest dramatically different traits depending on environmental conditions. Furthermore, aphids cannot survive on sap alone and depend on the presence of symbiotic bacteria to sustain them.

Accordingly, when the International Aphid Genome Consortium (IAGC) decided to determine the first complete aphid genomic sequence, they targeted the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum—a reasonably well-understood species. “As this species has long been used for research, a relatively large amount of biological and genetic information is available,” explains Atsushi Nakabachi, a researcher at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute and IAGC project leader.

IAGC scientists recently published a ‘first draft’ genome containing 464 million bases of assembled sequence data from A. pisum, and have tentatively identified over 34,000 putative genes—although many are purely hypothetical1. Fortunately, Nakabachi and others have also compiled a library of over 50,000 full-length cDNAs—clones directly derived from expressed genes—which should greatly facilitate genome annotation and characterization of gene function.

The IAGC has also gathered genomic data from Buchnera aphidicola, the primary pea aphid endosymbiont, and Nakabachi’s team has been steadily working to untangle the complicated relationship between bug and bacterium3. Over the past 100 million years, Buchnera and the aphid have forged a highly interdependent relationship; today, these bacteria lack numerous essential genes whose function appears to be compensated for by their host species, raising questions of whether these genes were incorporated into the aphid genome over the course of evolution.

Careful analysis of the aphid genome revealed at least eight functional aphid genes of apparent bacterial origin, seven of which are highly expressed in symbiont-containing bacteriocyte cells. Unexpectedly, however, all of these appear to originate from non-Buchnera bacteria, suggesting that these symbionts are being sustained by contributions from other species. “Researchers have hypothesized that at least part of ancestral Buchnera genes have been transferred to the host aphid genome, reminiscent of organelles such as mitochondria,” says Nakabachi. “The present study rules out this hypothesis and reveals that the case is more complicated.” He now hopes to uncover more practical details of this genetic partnership, which could eventually reveal useful vulnerabilities to exploit for pest control.

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Miyagishima Initiative Research Unit, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute

Journal information

1. The International Aphid Genomics Consortium. Genome sequence of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. PLoS Biology 8, e1000313 (2010)
2. Shigenobu, S., Richards, S., Cree, A.G., Morioka, M., Fukatsu, T., Kudo, T., Miyagishima, S., Gibbs, R.A., Stern, D.L. & Nakabachi, A. A full-length cDNA resource for the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. Insect Molecular Biology 19, 23–31 (2010)

3. Nikoh, N., McCutcheon, J.P., Kudo, T., Miyagishima, S., Moran, N.A. & Nakabachi, A. Bacterial genes in the aphid genome: absence of functional gene transfer from Buchnera to its host. PLoS Genetics 6, e1000827 (2010)

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.rikenresearch.riken.jp/eng/research/6275
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>