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.
We describe a novel symbiotic association between a kinetoplastid protist,
gen. nov., sp. nov., and an intracytoplasmic bacterium, “
Pandoraea novymonadis” sp. nov., discovered as a result of a broad-scale survey of insect trypanosomatid biodiversity in Ecuador. We characterize this association by describing the morphology of both organisms, as well as their interactions, and by establishing their phylogenetic affinities. Importantly, neither partner is closely related to other known organisms previously implicated in eukaryote-bacterial symbiosis. This symbiotic association seems to be relatively recent, as the host does not exert a stringent control over the number of bacteria harbored in its cytoplasm. We argue that this unique relationship may represent a suitable model for studying the initial stages of establishment of endosymbiosis between a single-cellular eukaryote and a prokaryote. Based on phylogenetic analyses,
could be considered a proxy for the insect-only ancestor of the dixenous genus
and shed light on the origin of the two-host life cycle within the subfamily Leishmaniinae.
The parasitic trypanosomatid protist
gen. nov., sp. nov. entered into endosymbiosis with the bacterium “
Pandoraea novymonadis” sp. nov. This novel and rather unstable interaction shows several signs of relatively recent establishment, qualifying it as a potentially unique transient stage in the increasingly complex range of eukaryotic-prokaryotic relationships.