Endosymbiosis in amoebae: Recently established endosymbionts have become required cytoplasmic components



A strain of large, free-living amoeba that became dependent on bacterial endosymbionts which had infected the amoebae initially as intracellular parasites, was studied by micrurgy and electron microscopy. The results show that the infected host cells require the presence of live endosymbionts for their survival. Thus, the nucleus of an infected amoeba can form a viable cell with the cytoplasm of a noninfected amoeba only when live endosymbionts are present. The endosymbiotic bacteria are not digested by the host amoebae and are not themselves used as nutritional supplement. While the host amoebae are dependent specifically on the endosymbionts, the latter can live inside amoebae of different strains, indicating that their dependence on the host cells is not yet strain specific.