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Keywords:

  • insect symbiont;
  • Wolbachia;
  • male-killing;
  • Photorhabdus;
  • Arsenophonus;
  • microbial genome sequence;
  • toxins

Abstract

We report the properties of a draft genome sequence of the bacterium Arsenophonus nasoniae, son-killer bacterium of Nasonia vitripennis. The genome sequence data from this study are the first for a male-killing bacterium, and represent a microorganism that is unusual compared with other sequenced symbionts, in having routine vertical and horizontal transmission, two alternating hosts, and being culturable on cell-free media. The resulting sequence totals c. 3.5 Mbp and is annotated to contain 3332 predicted open reading frames (ORFs). Therefore, Arsenophonus represents a relatively large genome for an insect symbiont. The annotated ORF set suggests that the microbe is capable of a broad array of metabolic functions, well beyond those found for reproductive parasite genomes sequenced to date and more akin to horizontally transmitted and secondary symbionts. We also find evidence of genetic transfer from Wolbachia symbionts, and phage exchange with other gammaproteobacterial symbionts. These findings reflect the complex biology of a bacterium that is able to live, invade and survive multiple host environments while resisting immune responses.