The genome of Rhizobiales bacteria in predatory ants indicates a role for urease in lifestyle switches
2016 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Bacterial symbionts provide amino acids to herbivorous ants, but their role in carnivores is a puzzle. The most prevalent bacterial lineage in ants belongs to the order Rhizobiales. Sequence reads with similarity to Bartonella, a member of the Rhizobiales, were identified in the data collected in a genome project of the carnivorous ant Harpegnatos saltator. Here, we present an analysis of the closed 1.86 Mb genome of the Bartonella-like bacterium, here abbreviated Bhsal. A phylogenetic study showed that Bhsal diverged prior to the radiation of the Bartonella species. Uniquely present in the Bhsal genome is a gene for a giant protein of 6,177 amino acids with a repeated domain structure. We also identified genes for a multi- subunit urease protein complex, potentially involved in the hydrolysis of urea into ammonium. We hypothesize that the urease function protects Bhsal from the acidic environment of the ant gut. The urease genes are also present in Brucella, which has a fecal-oral transmission pathway, but they have been lost in Bartonella species, which use blood-borne transmission pathways. Taken together, the results suggest that the urease function has served an important role for transmission strategies and lifestyle changes in the host-associated members of the Rhizobiales.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
symbiosis, genomics, Bartonella
Research subject Biology with specialization in Molecular Evolution
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301778OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-301778DiVA: diva2:955249