Mutualisms that become evolutionarily stable give rise to organismal interdependencies. Some insects have developed intracellular associations with communities of bacteria, where the interdependencies are manifest in patterns of complementary gene loss and retention among members of the symbiosis. Here, using comparative genomics and microscopy, we show that a three-member symbiotic community has become a four-way assemblage through a novel bacterial lineage-splitting event. In some but not all cicada species of the genus Tettigades, the endosymbiont Candidatus Hodgkinia cicadicola has split into two new cytologically distinct but metabolically interdependent species. Although these new bacterial genomes are partitioned into discrete cell types, the intergenome patterns of gene loss and retention are almost perfectly complementary. These results defy easy classification: they show genomic patterns consistent with those observed after both speciation and whole-genome duplication. We suggest that our results highlight the potential power of nonadaptive forces in shaping organismal complexity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)