The draft genome sequence of Arsenophonus nasoniae, son-killer bacterium of Nasonia vitripennis, reveals genes associated with virulence and symbiosis


G. Hurst, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK. Tel.: +44 15 1795 4520; e-mail:


Four percent of female Nasonia vitripennis carry the son-killer bacterium Arsenophonus nasoniae, a microbe with notably different biology from other inherited parasites and symbionts. In this paper, we examine a draft genome sequence of the bacterium for open reading frames (ORFs), structures and pathways involved in interactions with its insect host. The genome data suggest that A. nasoniae carries multiple type III secretion systems, and an array of toxin and virulence genes found in Photorhabdus, Yersinia and other gammaproteobacteria. Of particular note are ORFs similar to those known to affect host innate immune functioning in other bacteria, and four ORFs related to pro-apoptotic exotoxins. The genome sequences for both A. nasoniae and its Nasonia host are useful tools for examining functional genomic interactions of microbial survival in hostile immune environments, and mechanisms of passage through gut epithelia, in a whole organism context.