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.).