An intracellular bacterium, strain IAST, was observed to infect several species of the plant-parasitic nematode genus Xiphinema (Xiphinema astaregiense, Xiphinema incertum, Xiphinema madeirense, Xiphinema pachtaicum, Xiphinema parapachydermum and Xiphinema vallense). The bacterium could not be recovered on axenic medium. The 16S rRNA gene sequence of IAST was found to be new, being related to the family Burkholderiaceae, class Betaproteobacteria. Fungal endosymbionts
B1-EBT (92.9 % sequence identity) and ‘Candidatus Glomeribacter gigasporarum’ BEG34 (89.8 % identity) are the closest taxa and form a separate phylogenetic clade inside Burkholderiaceae. Other genes (atpD, lepA and recA) also separated this species from its closest relatives using a multilocus sequence analysis approach. These genes were obtained using a partial genome of this bacterium. The localization of the bacterium (via light and fluorescence in situ hybridization microscopy) is in the X. pachtaicum females clustered around the developing oocytes, primarily found embedded inside the epithelial wall cells of the ovaries, from where they are dispersed in the intestine. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations supported the presence of bacteria inside the nematode body, where they occupy ovaries and occur inside the intestinal epithelium. Ultrastructural analysis of the bacterium showed cells that appear as mostly irregular, slightly curved rods with rounded ends, 0.8–1.2 µm wide and 2.5–6.0 µm long, possessing a typical Gram-negative cell wall. The peptidoglycan layer is, however, evident only occasionally and not detectable by TEM in most cells. Another irregularly occurring shell surrounding the endosymbiont cells or the cell clusters was also revealed, probably originating from the host cell membrane. Flagella or spore-like cells do not occur and the nucleoid is diffusely distributed throughout the cell. This endosymbiont is transmitted vertically through nematode generations. These results support the proposal of IAST as a new species, although its obligate intracellular and obligate endosymbiont nature prevented isolation of a definitive type strain. Strain IAST is therefore proposed as representing ‘Candidatus Xiphinematincola pachtaicus’ gen. nov., sp. nov.
The Xiphinema americanum-group is a large species complex containing more than 50 nematode species. They are economically important because they are vectors of nepoviruses. The species differentiation of X. americanum-group is problematic because the species share similar morphological characters. In the present study we collected nematode samples from different locations in the USA, Italy and Russia. Six valid species, X. americanum s. str., X. brevicolle, X. californicum, X. pachtaicum, X. rivesi and X. simile, and four unidentified putative Xiphinema species were characterised by morphology and sequencing of D2-D3 of 28S rRNA, ITS1 rRNA and mitochondrial COI genes. New nematode sequences generated totalled 147. Phylogenetic relationships of the X. americanum-group species reconstructed by Bayesian inference for D2-D3 of 28S rRNA gene sequences did not provide clear species delimitation of the samples studied, although the mtDNA presented interspecific variations useful for demarcation among species. Xiphinema americanum s. str., X. californicum, X. pachtaicum, X. rivesi, and two unidentified Xiphinema species were found in 72 soil samples from California. We also reconstructed the phylogenetic relationships using partial 16S rRNA gene sequences within endosymbiotic bacteria of the genus Candidatus Xiphinematobacter and provided solid evidence for distinguishing 17 species of this genus based on the analysis of new and previously published sequences. Fifty-five new bacterial sequences were obtained in the present study and comparison of the bacterial 16S rRNA and nematode COI phylogenies revealed a high level of co-speciation events between host and symbiont.