Complete bacteriophage transfer in a bacterial endosymbiont (Wolbachia) determined by targeted genome capture.

Kent BN, Salichos L, Gibbons JG, Rokas A, Newton IL, Clark ME, Bordenstein SR
Genome Biol Evol. 2011 3: 209-18

PMID: 21292630 · PMCID: PMC3068000 · DOI:10.1093/gbe/evr007

Bacteriophage flux can cause the majority of genetic diversity in free-living bacteria. This tenet of bacterial genome evolution generally does not extend to obligate intracellular bacteria owing to their reduced contact with other microbes and a predominance of gene deletion over gene transfer. However, recent studies suggest intracellular coinfections in the same host can facilitate exchange of mobile elements between obligate intracellular bacteria-a means by which these bacteria can partially mitigate the reductive forces of the intracellular lifestyle. To test whether bacteriophages transfer as single genes or larger regions between coinfections, we sequenced the genome of the obligate intracellular Wolbachia strain wVitB from the parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis and compared it against the prophage sequences of the divergent wVitA coinfection. We applied, for the first time, a targeted sequence capture array to specifically trap the symbiont's DNA from a heterogeneous mixture of eukaryotic, bacterial, and viral DNA. The tiled array successfully captured the genome with 98.3% efficiency. Examination of the genome sequence revealed the largest transfer of bacteriophage and flanking genes (52.2 kb) to date between two obligate intracellular coinfections. The mobile element transfer occurred in the recent evolutionary past based on the 99.9% average nucleotide identity of the phage sequences between the two strains. In addition to discovering an evolutionary recent and large-scale horizontal phage transfer between coinfecting obligate intracellular bacteria, we demonstrate that "targeted genome capture" can enrich target DNA to alleviate the problem of isolating symbiotic microbes that are difficult to culture or purify from the conglomerate of organisms inside eukaryotes.

MeSH Terms (5)

Bacteriophages Gene Transfer, Horizontal Genome, Bacterial Symbiosis Wolbachia

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