is a parasitic flagellate of the family Trypanosomatidae representing the closest insect-restricted relative of the human pathogen
. It bears symbiotic bacteria in its cytoplasm, the relationship with which has been established relatively recently and independently from other known endosymbioses in protists.
AbstractTrypanosomatids of the genera Angomonas and Strigomonas (subfamily Strigomonadinae) have long been known to contain intracellular beta-proteobacteria, which provide them with many important nutrients such as haem, essential amino acids and vitamins. Recently, Kentomonas sorsogonicus, a divergent member of Strigomonadinae, has been described. Herein, we characterize the genome of its endosymbiont, Candidatus Kinetoplastibacterium sorsogonicusi. This genome is completely syntenic with those of other known Ca. Kinetoplastibacterium spp., but more reduced in size (~742 kb, compared with 810–833 kb, respectively). Gene losses are not concentrated in any hot-spots but are instead distributed throughout the genome. The most conspicuous loss is that of the haem-synthesis pathway. For long, removing haemin from the culture medium has been a standard procedure in cultivating trypanosomatids isolated from insects; continued growth was considered as an evidence of endosymbiont presence. However, we demonstrate that, despite bearing the endosymbiont, K. sorsogonicus cannot grow in culture without haem. Thus, the traditional test cannot be taken as a reliable criterion for the absence or presence of endosymbionts in trypanosomatid flagellates. It remains unclear why the ability to synthesize such an essential compound was lost in Ca. K. sorsogonicusi, whereas all other known bacterial endosymbionts of trypanosomatids retain them.