Parallel genomic evolution and metabolic interdependence in an ancient symbiosis

John P. McCutcheon, Nancy A. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


Obligate symbioses with nutrient-provisioning bacteria have originated often during animal evolution and have been key to the ecological diversification of many invertebrate groups. To date, genome sequences of insect nutritional symbionts have been restricted to a related cluster within Gammaproteobacteria and have revealed distinctive features, including extreme reduction, rapid evolution, and biased nucleotide composition. Using recently developed sequencing technologies, we show that Sulcia muelleri, a member of the Bacteroidetes, underwent similar genomic changes during coevolution with its sap-feeding insect host (sharpshooters) and the coresident symbiont Baumannia cicadellinicola (Gammaproteobacteria). At 245 kilobases, Sulcia's genome is approximately one tenth of the smallest known Bacteroidetes genome and among the smallest for any cellular organism. Analysis of the coding capacities of Sulcia and Baumannia reveals striking complementarity in metabolic capabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19392-19397
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 4 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacteroidetes
  • Genome reduction
  • Insects
  • Pyrosequencing
  • Sharpshooters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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