Bacteria called ‘Fritschea’ are endosymbionts of the plant-feeding whitefly Bemisia tabaci and scale insect Eriococcus spurius. In the gut of B. tabaci, these bacteria live within bacteriocyte cells that are transmitted directly from the parent to oocytes. Whiteflies cause serious economic damage to many agricultural crops; B. tabaci fecundity and host range are less than those of Bemisia argentifolii, possibly due to the presence of this endosymbiont. The B. tabaci endosymbiont has been characterized using electron microscopy and DNA analysis but has not been isolated or propagated outside of insects. The present study compared sequences for 11 endosymbiont genes to genomic data for chlamydial families Parachlamydiaceae, Chlamydiaceae and Simkaniaceae and to 16S rRNA gene signature sequences from 330 chlamydiae. We concluded that it was appropriate to propose ‘Candidatus Fritschea bemisiae’ strain Falk and ‘Candidatus Fritschea eriococci’ strain Elm as members of the family Simkaniaceae in the Chlamydiales.
Psyllids are plant sap-feeding insects that harbor prokaryotic endosymbionts in specialized cells within the body cavity. Four-kilobase DNA fragments containing 16S and 23S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) were amplified from the primary (P) endosymbiont of 32 species of psyllids representing three psyllid families and eight subfamilies. In addition, 0.54-kb fragments of the psyllid nuclear gene
were also amplified from 26 species. Phylogenetic trees derived from 16S-23S rDNA and from the host
gene are very similar, and tests of compatibility of the data sets show no significant conflict between host and endosymbiont phylogenies. This result is consistent with a single infection of a shared psyllid ancestor and subsequent cospeciation of the host and the endosymbiont. In addition, the phylogenies based on DNA sequences generally agreed with psyllid taxonomy based on morphology. The 3′ end of the 16S rDNA of the P endosymbionts differs from that of other members of the domain
in the lack of a sequence complementary to the mRNA ribosome binding site. The rate of sequence change in the 16S-23S rDNA of the psyllid P endosymbiont was considerably higher than that of other bacteria, including other fast-evolving insect endosymbionts. The lineage consisting of the P endosymbionts of psyllids was given the designation
Carsonella (gen. nov.) with a single species,
Carsonella ruddii (sp. nov.).