The facultative symbiont Rickettsia protects an invasive whitefly against entomopathogenic Pseudomonas syringae strains

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31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Facultative endosymbionts can benefit insect hosts in a variety of ways, including context-dependent roles, such as providing defense against pathogens. The role of some symbionts in defense may be overlooked, however, when pathogen infection is transient, sporadic, or asymptomatic. The facultative endosymbiont Rickettsia increases the fitness of the sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) in some populations through mechanisms that are not yet understood. In this study, we investigated the role of Rickettsia in mediating the interaction between the sweet potato whitefly and Pseudomonas syringae, a common environmental bacterium, some strains of which are pathogenic to aphids. Our results show that P. syringae multiplies within whiteflies, leading to host death, and that whiteflies infected with Rickettsia show a decreased rate of death due to P. syringae. Experiments using plants coated with P. syringae confirmed that whiteflies can acquire the bacteria at a low rate while feeding, leading to increased mortality, particularly when the whiteflies are not infected with Rickettsia. These results suggest that P. syringae may affect whitefly populations in nature and that Rickettsia can ameliorate this effect. This study highlights the possible importance of interactions among opportunistic environmental pathogens and endosymbionts of insects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7161-7168
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume80
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

Pseudomonas syringae
Rickettsia
whitefly
Hemiptera
Aleyrodidae
symbiont
symbionts
Bemisia tabaci
endosymbionts
endosymbiont
Ipomoea batatas
pathogens
pathogen
potato
Insects
insects
bacteria
insect
Bacteria
Aphids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology

Cite this

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abstract = "Facultative endosymbionts can benefit insect hosts in a variety of ways, including context-dependent roles, such as providing defense against pathogens. The role of some symbionts in defense may be overlooked, however, when pathogen infection is transient, sporadic, or asymptomatic. The facultative endosymbiont Rickettsia increases the fitness of the sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) in some populations through mechanisms that are not yet understood. In this study, we investigated the role of Rickettsia in mediating the interaction between the sweet potato whitefly and Pseudomonas syringae, a common environmental bacterium, some strains of which are pathogenic to aphids. Our results show that P. syringae multiplies within whiteflies, leading to host death, and that whiteflies infected with Rickettsia show a decreased rate of death due to P. syringae. Experiments using plants coated with P. syringae confirmed that whiteflies can acquire the bacteria at a low rate while feeding, leading to increased mortality, particularly when the whiteflies are not infected with Rickettsia. These results suggest that P. syringae may affect whitefly populations in nature and that Rickettsia can ameliorate this effect. This study highlights the possible importance of interactions among opportunistic environmental pathogens and endosymbionts of insects.",
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