Characterization of a Pseudokeronopsis Strain (Ciliophora, Urostylida) and Its Bacterial Endosymbiont “Candidatus Trichorickettsia” (Alphaproteobacteria, Rickettsiales)

Castelli et al. (2022). Diversity 14 (12)
Names (2)
Ca. Trichorickettsia Ca. Trichorickettsia mobilis
Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous) Ecological Modeling Ecology Nature and Landscape Conservation
Symbiotic associations between bacteria and ciliate protists are rather common. In particular, several cases were reported involving bacteria of the alphaproteobacterial lineage Rickettsiales, but the diversity, features, and interactions in these associations are still poorly understood. In this work, we characterized a novel ciliate protist strain originating from Brazil and its associated Rickettsiales endosymbiont by means of live and ultrastructural observations, as well as molecular phylogeny. Though with few morphological peculiarities, the ciliate was found to be phylogenetically affiliated with Pseudokeronopsis erythrina, a euryhaline species, which is consistent with its origin from a lagoon with significant spatial and seasonal salinity variations. The bacterial symbiont was assigned to “Candidatus Trichorickettsia mobilis subsp. hyperinfectiva”, being the first documented case of a Rickettsiales associated with urostylid ciliates. It resided in the host cytoplasm and bore flagella, similarly to many, but not all, conspecifics in other host species. These findings highlight the ability of “Candidatus Trichorickettsia” to infect multiple distinct host species and underline the importance of further studies on this system, in particular on flagella and their regulation, from a functional and also an evolutionary perspective, considering the phylogenetic proximity with the well-studied and non-flagellated Rickettsia.
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